Skip to main content

Full text of "Capital; a critique of political economy"

See other formats















. / 

Copyright, 1906 




AUTHOR S PREFACES I. To the First Edition ........... 11 

II. To the Second Edition ........... 10 

EDITOR S PREFACE To the First English Translation, ........ 27 

EDITOR S PREFACE To the Fourth German Edition, ......... 32 



CHAPTER I. Commodities .................. 41 

Section 1. The two Factors of a Commodity; Use Value and Value (the 

Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value) ........ 41 

Section 2. The Twofold Character of the Labour embodied in Commodities, 48 

Section 3. The Form of Value, or Exchange Value, ........ 54 

A. Elementary or Accidental Form o." Value, ......... 56 

1. The two Poles of the Expression of Value: Relative Form and 

Equivalent Form, ............... 56 

The Relative Form of Value, ............ 57 

(o.) The Nature and Import of this Form, ....... 67 

(&.) Quantitative Determination of Relative Value ...... 61 

3. The Equivalent Form of Value, ........... 64 

4. The Elementary Form of Value considered as a Whole, ... 69 

B. Total or Expanded Form of Value, ........... 72 

1. The Expanded Relative Form of Value, ........ 72 

2. The Particular Equivalent Form, .......... 73 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded Form of Value ...... 74 

C. The General Form of Value, ............. 75 

1. The altered Character of the Form of Valu .......... 75 

1. The interdependent Development of the Relative Form of Value, 

and of the Equivalent Form ............. 78 

3. Transition from the General Form to the Money Form, .... 79 

D. The Money Form .................. 80 

Section 4. The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof ...... 81 

/ CHAPTER II. Exchange ................. 96 

CHAPTER 111. Money, or the Circulation of Commodities ...... . . 106 

Section 1. The Measure of Value ............... 106 

Section 2. The Medium of Circulation ............. 116 

a. The Metamorphosis of Commodities ......... 116 

i. The Currency of Money ............. 128 

t. Coin, and Symbols of Value, ........... 140 

Section 8. Money, ................... 146 

a. Hoarding ................. 146 

*. Means of Payment, .... ........... 151 

, Universal Money ............... 159 



CHAPTER IV. The General Formula for Capital ........... j/W 

CHAPTER V. Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital, 
C AFTER VI. The Buying and Selling of LabourrPower 


4 Contents. 




/CHAPTER VII. The Labour Process and the Process of producing Surplus- 

Section 1. The Labour Process or the Production of Use- Value, 197 

< Section 2. The Production of Surplus- Value, 207 

CHAPTER VIII. Constant Capital and Variable Capital 221 

CHAPTER IX. The Rate of Surplus- Value, ..235 

Section 1. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power, 235 

Section 2. The Representation of the Components of the Value of the Pro 
duct by corresponding proportional Parts of the Product itself, . . . ,2_44_ 

Section 3. Senior s " Last Hour," 248 

Section 4. Surplus-Produce 254 

CHAPTER X. The Working-Day, 255 

Section 1. The Limits of the Working-Day, 255 

Section 2. The Greed for Surplus-Labour. Manufacturer and Boyard, .. . 259 
Section 3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation, 268 

Section 4. Day and Night Work. The Relay System 282 

Section 5. The Struggle for a Normal Working- Day. Compulsory Laws for 
the Extension of the Working-Day from the Middle of the 14th to the 

End of the 17th Century 290 

Section 6. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Compulsory Limitation 

by Law of the Working-Time. The English Factory Acts, 1833 to 1864, 304 
Section 7. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Re-action of the Eng 
lish Factory Acts on Other Countries, 326 

CHAPTER XI. Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value, . , _331 



CHAPTER XII. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value 842 

CHAPTER XIII.- Co-Operation, 358 

CHAPTER XIV. Division of Labour and Manufacture, 368 

Section 1. Twofold Origin of Manufacture, 368 

Section 2. The Detail Labourer and his Implements 372 

Section 3. The two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture: Heterogeneous 

Manufacture, Serial Manufacture, 375 

Section 4. Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in 

Society 385 

Section 5. The Capitalistic Character of Manufacture, 895 

CHAPTER XV. Machinery and Modern Industry, 405 

Section 1. The Development of Machinery 405 

Section 2. The Value transferred by Machinery to the Product 422 

Section 3. The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the Workman, . . . . 430 
a. Appropriation of Supplementary Labour-Power by Capital. The 

Employment of Women and Children, 481 

&. Prolongation of the Working-Day, 440 

c. Intensification of Labour, 447 

Section 4. The Factory, 457 

Section 5. The Strife between Workman and Machinery, 466 

Section 6. The Theory of Compensation as regards thr Workpeople displaced 

by Machinery . ... ~. 478 

Section 7. RejraJsiou and Attraction of Workpeople by the Factory 

Crises of the Cotton Trade 

Contents. 5 


Section 8. Revolution effected in Manufacture, Handicrafts, and Domestic 

Industry by Modern Industry 502 

a. Overthrow of Co-Operation based on Handicraft and on Divi 

sion of Labour, 502 

b. Re-action of the Factory System on Manufacture and Domes 

tic Industries, 504 

e. Modern Manufacture, 506 

d. Modern Domestic Industry, 509 

e. Passage of Modern Manufacture and Domestic Industry into 

Modern Mechanical Industry. The Hastening of this Revo 
lution by the Application of the Factory Acts to those In 
dustries, 514 

Section 9. The Factory Acts. Sanitary and Educational Clauses of the same. 
> Their general Extension in England, 526 

Section 10. Modern Industry and Agriculture 653 



CHAPTER XVI. Absolute and Relative Surplus- Value, 657 

CHAPTER XVII. Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-Power and in 

Surplus-Value 668 

L Length of the Working Day and Intensity of Labour constant. Pro 
ductiveness of Labour variable 56 

II. Working Day constant. Productiveness of Labour constant. Intensity 

of Labor variable, 574 

III. Productiveness and Intensity of Labour constant. Length of the Work 
ing Day variable, 576 

IV. Simultaneous Variations in the Duration, Productiveness and In 
tensity of Labour, 678 

(1.) Diminishing Productiveness of Labour with a simultaneous Length 
ening of the Working Day 578 

(2.) Increasing Intensity and Productiveness of Labour with simul 
taneous Shortening of the Working Day, 680 

CHAPTER XVIIL Various Formlae for the Rate of Surplus- Value 682 



CHAPTER XIX. The Transformation of the Value (and respectively the Price) 

of Labour-Power into Wages, 686 

CHAPTER XX. Time-wages, 594 

CHAPTER XXL Piece-Wages, 602 

CHAPTER XXII. National Differences of Wages, 611 



CHAPTER XXIII. Simple Reproduction 619 

CHAPTER XXIV. Conversion of Surplus- Value into Capital 634 

Section 1. Capitalist Production on a progressively increasing Scale. Transi 
tion of the Laws of Property that characterise Production of Com 
modities into Laws of Capitalist Appropriation, 634 

Section 2. Erroneous Conception, by Political Economy, of Reproduction on 

a progressively increasing Scale 044 

5 Contents. 


Section 3. Separation of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue. The Ab 
stinence Theory 

Section 4. Circumstances that, independently of the proportional Division of 
Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue, determine the Amount of Ac 
cumulation. Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power. Productivity of 
Labour. Growing Difference in Amount between Capital employed and 
Capital consumed. Magnitude of Capital advanced 656 

Section 5. The so-called Labour Fund, 667 

CHAPTER XXV. The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation 671 

Section 1. The increased Demand for Labour-Power that accompanies Accumu 
lation, the Composition of Capital remaining the same 671 

Section 2. Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of Capital simultaneously 
with the Progress of Accumulation and of the Concentration that ac 
companies it, 681 

Section 3. Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus-Population, or Indus 
trial Reserve Army ,. 689 

Section 4. Different Forms of the Relative Surplus-Population. The General 

Law of Capitalistic Accumulation, 70S 

Section 6. Illustrations of the General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, . .711 

a. England from 1846 to 1866, 711 

b. The badly paid Strata of the British Industrial Class, . . .718 

c. The Nomad Population 728 

d. Effect of Crises on the best paid Part of the Working Class, . 733 

*. The British Agricultural Proletariat, 739 

f. Ireland 767 



CHAPTER XXVI. The Secret of Primitive Accumulation 784 

CHAPTER XXVII. Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land, .J-IST 
CHAPTER XXVIII. Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated from the End 

of the 15th Century. Forcing down of Wages by Acts of Parliament, . 805 

CHAPTER XXIX. Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer, 814 

CHAPTER XXX. Reaction of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. Creal 

tion of the Home Market for Industrial Capital, 817 

CHAPTER XXXI. Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist, 8i& 

CHAPTER XXXIL Historical Tendency of Capitalistic Accumulation, . . .834)^, 
CHAPTER XXXIII. The Modern Theory of Colonization 838 \ 

Works and Authors quoted in " Capital," 850 

Index . 866 


The original plan of Marx, as outlined in his preface to 
the first German edition of Capital, in 1867, was to divide 
his work into three volumes. Volume I was to contain Book 
I, The Process of Capitalist Production. Volume II was 
scheduled to comprise both Book II, The Process of Capi 
talist Circulation, and Book III, The Process of Capitalist 
Production as a Whole. The work was to close with volume 
III, containing Book IV, A History of Theories of Surplus- 

When Marx proceeded to elaborate his work for publica 
tion, he had the essential portions of all three volumes, with 
a few exceptions, worked out in their main analyses and con 
clusions, but in a very loose and unfinished form. Owing to 
ill health, he completed only volume I. He died on March 
14, 1883, just when a third German edition of this volume 
was being prepared for the printer. 

Frederick Engels, the intimate friend and co-operator of 
Marx, stepped into the place of his dead comrade and pro 
ceeded to complete the work. In the course of the elabora 
tion of volume II it was found that it would be wholly taken 
up with Book II, The Process of Capitalist Circulation. Its 
first German edition did not appear until May, 1885, almost 
18 years after the first volume. 

The publication of the third volume was delayed still 
longer. When the second German edition of volume II ap 
peared, in July, 1893, Engels was still working on volume 


8 American Editor s Note. 

III. It was not until October, 1894, that the first German 
edition of volume III was published, in two separate parts, 
containing the subject matter of what had been originally 
planned as Book III of volume II, and treating of The Capi 
talist Process of Production as a whole. 

The reasons for the delay in the publication of volumes II 
and III, and the difficulties encountered in solving the 
problem of elaborating the copious notes of Marx into a fin 
ished and connected presentation of his theories, have been 
fully explained by Engels in his various prefaces to these two 
volumes. His great modesty led him td belittle his own 
share in this fundamental work. As a matter of fact, a large 
portion of the contents of Capital is as much a creation of 
Engels as though he had written it independently of Marx. 

Engels intended to issue the contents of the manuscripts 
for Book IV, originally planned as volume III, in the form 
of a fourth volume of Capital. But on the 6th of August, 
1895, less than one year after the publication of volume III, 
he followed his co-worker into the grave, still leaving this 
work incompleted. 

However, some years previous to his demise, and in antici 
pation of such an eventuality, he had appointed Karl Kautsky, 
the editor of Die Neue Zeii, the scientific organ of the German 
Socialist Party, as his successor and familiarized him per 
sonally with the subject matter intended for volume IY of 
this work. The material proved to be so voluminous, that 
Kautsky, instead of making a fourth volume of Capital out 
of it, abandoned the original plan and issued his elaboration 
as a separate work in three volumes under the title Theories of 

The first English translation of the first volume of Capital 
was edited by Engels and published in 1886. Marx had in 
the meantime made some changes in the text of the second 

American Editor s Note. 9 

German edition and of the French translation, both of which 
appeared in 1873, and he had intended to superintend per 
sonally the edition of an English version. But the state of 
his health interfered with this plan. Engels utilised his 
notes and the text of the French edition of 1873 in the prep 
aration of a third German edition, and this served as a basis 
for the first edition of the English translation. 

Owing to the fact that the title page of this English trans 
lation (published by Swan Sonnenschein & Co.) did not dis 
tinctly specify that this was but volume I ? it has often been 
mistaken for the complete work, in spite of the fact that the 
prefaces of Marx and Engels clearly pointed to the actual 
condition of the matter. 

In 1890, four years after the publication of the first Eng 
lish edition, Engels edited the proofs for a fourth German 
edition of volume I and enlarged it still more after a re 
peated comparison with the French edition and with manu 
script notes of Marx. But the Swan Sonnenschein edition 
did not adopt this new version in its subsequent English 

This first American edition will be the first complete Eng 
lish edition of the entire Marxian theories of Capitalist Pro 
duction. It will contain all three volumes of Capital in full. 
The present volume, I, deals with The Process of Capitalist 
Production in the strict meaning of the term " production." 
Volume II will treat of The Process of Capitalist Circulation 
in the strict meaning of the term " circulation." Volume 
III will contain the final analysis of The Process of Capitalist 
Production as a Whole, that is of Production and Circulation 
in their mutual interrelations. 

The Theories of Surplus-Value, Kautsky s elaboration of 
the posthumous notes of Marx and Engels, will in due time 
be published in an English translation as a separate work. 

1O American Editor s Note. 

This first American edition of volume I is based on the 
revised fourth German edition. The text of the English 
version of the Swan Sonnenschein edition has been compared 
page for page with this improved German edition, and about 
ten pages of new text hitherto not rendered in English are 
thus presented to American readers. All the footnotes have 
likewise been revised and brought up to date. 

For all further information concerning the technical par 
ticulars of this work I refer the reader to the prefaces of Marx 
and Engels. 


Orlando, Fla., July 18, 1906. 



THE work, the first volume of which I now submit to the 
public, forms the continuation of my "Zur Kritik der 
Politischen Oekonomie" (A Contribution to the Critique of 
Political Economy) published in 1859. The long pause be 
tween the first part and the continuation is due to an illness 
of many years duration that again and again interrupted my 

The substance of that earlier work is summarised in the 
first three chapters of this volume. This is done not merely 
for the sake of connection and completeness. The presentation 
of the subject-matter is improved. As far as circumstances in 
any way permit, many points only hinted at in the earlier 
book are here worked out more fully, whilst, conversely, points 
worked out fully there are only touched upon in this volume. 
The sections on the history of the theories of value and of 
money are now, of course, left out altogether The reader 
of the earlier work will find, however, in the notes to the first 
chapter additional sources of reference relative to the history 
of those theories. 

Every beginning is difficult, holds in all sciences. To 
understand the first chapter, especially the section that con 
tains the analysis of commodities, will, therefore, present the 
greatest difficulty. That which concerns more especially the 
analysis of the substance of value and the magnitude of valno, 


12 Author s Prefaces. 

I have, as much as it was possible, popularised. 1 The value- 
form, whose fully developed shape is the money-form, is very 
elementary and simple. Nevertheless, the human mind has 
for more than 2000 years sought in vain to get to the bottom 
of it, whilst on the other hand, to the successful analysis of 
much more composite and complex forms, there has been at 
least an approximation. Why ? Because the body, as an or- 
ganic whole, is more easy of study than are the cells of that 
body. In the analysis of economic forms, moreover, neither 
microscopes nor chemical reagents are of use. The force of 
abstraction must replace both. But in bourgeois society the 
commodity-form of the product of labor or the value-form 
of the commodity is the economic cell-form. To the super 
ficial observer, the analysis of these forms seems to turn upon 
minutiae. It does in fact deal with minutiae, but they are of 
the same order as those dealt with in microscopic anatomy. 

With the exception of the section on value-form, therefor^ 
this volume cannot stand accused on the score of difficulty. I 
pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn somo- 
thing new and therefore to think for, himself. 

The physicist either observes physical phenomena where 
they occur in their most typical form and most free from 
disturbing influence, or, wherever possible, he makes experi 
ments under conditions that assure the occurrence of the phe- 

i This is the more necessary, as even the section of Feidinand Lassalle t 
work against Schulze-Delitzsch, in which he professed to give "the intel 
lectual quintessence" of my explanations on these subjects, contains im 
portant mistakes. If Ferdinand Lassalle has borrowed almost literally 
from my writings, and without any acknowledgment, all the general 
theoretical propositions in his economic works, e.g,, those on the his 
torical character of capital, on the connection between the conditions of 
production and the mode of production, &c., Ac., even to the terminology 
created by me, this may perhaps be due to purposes of propaganda. I 
am here, of course, not speaking of his detailed working out and applica 
tion of these propositions, with which I have nothing to do. 

Autlwr s Prefaces. 13 

nomenon in its normality. In this work I have to examine 
the capitalist mode of production, and the conditions of pro 
duction and exchange corresponding to that mode. Up to the 
present time, their classic ground is England. That is the 
reason why England is used as the chief illustration in the 
development of my theoretical ideas. If, however, the Ger 
man reader shrugs his shoulders at the condition of the Eng 
lish industrial and agricultural laborers, or in optimist fash 
ion comforts himself with the thought that in Germany things 
are not nearly so bad, I must plainly tell him, "De te fabvla 
narratur! " 

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or lower 
degree of development of the social antagonisms that result 
from the natural laws of capitalist production. It is a ques 
tion of these laws themselves, of these tendencies working with 
iron necessity towards inevitable results. The country that 
is more developed industrially only shows, to the less de 
veloped, the image of its own future. 

But apart from this. Where capitalist production is fully 
naturalised among the Germans (for instance, in the factories 
proper) the condition of things is much worse than in England, 
because the counterpoise of the Factory Acts is wanting. In 
all other spheres, we, like all the rest of Continental Western 
Europe, suffer not only from the development of capitalist 
production, but also from the incompleteness of that develop 
ment Alongside of modern evils, a whole series of inherited 
evils oppress us, arising from the passive survival of anti 
quated modes of production, with their inevitable train of 
social and political anachronisms. We suffer not only from the 
living, but from the dead. Le mort saisit le vif! 

The social statistics of Germany and the rest of Continental 
Western Europe are, in comparison with those of England, 
wretchedly compiled. But they raise the veil just enough 

14 Author s Prefaces. 

to let us catch a glimpse of the Medusa head behind it. We 
should be appalled at the state of things at home, if, as in 
England, our governments and parliaments appointed period 
ically commissions of enquiry into economic conditions; if 
these commissions were armed with the same plenary powers 
to get at the truth ; if it was possible to find for this purpose 
men as competent, as free from partisanship and respect of 
persons as are the English factory-inspectors, her medical re 
porters on public health, her commissioners of enquiry into 
the exploitation of women and children, into housing and 
food. Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters he hunted 
down might not see him. We draw the magic cap down over 
eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters. 
LeTus not deceive ourselves on this. As in the 18th century, 
the American war of independence sounded the tocsin for the 
European middle-class, so in the 19th century, the American 
civil war sounded it for the European working-class. In Eng 
land the progress of social disintegration is palpable. When 
it has reached a certain point, it must re-act on the continent. 
There it will take a form more brutal or more humane, accord 
ing to the degree of development of the working-class itself. 
Apart from higher motives, therefore, their own most impor 
tant interests dictate to the classes that are for the nonce the 
ruling ones, the removal of all legally removable hindrances 
to the free development of the working-class. For this reason, 
as well as others, I have given so large a space in this volume 
to the history, the details, and the results of English factory 
legislation. One nation can and should learn from others. 
And even when a society has got upon the right track for the 
discovery of the natural laws of its movement and it is the 
ultimate aim of this work, to lay bare the economic law of 
motion of modern society it can neither clear by bold leaps, 
nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the 

Author s Prefaces. 15 

successive phases of its normal development But it can 
shorten and lessen the birth-pangs. 

To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I paint the 
capitalist and the landlord in no sense covleiur de rose. But 
here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the 
personifications of economic categories, embodiments of par 
ticular class-relations and class-interests. My stand-point, 
from which the evolution of the economic formation of society 
is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any 
other make the individual responsible for relations whose crea 
ture he socially remains, however much he may subjectively 
raise himself above them. 

In the domain of Political Economy, free scientific enquiry 
meets not merely the same enemies as in all other domains. 
The peculiar nature of the material it deals with, summons as 
foes into the field of battle the most violent, mean and malig 
nant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private in 
terest. The English Established Church, e.g., will more 
readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on fa 
of its income. Now-a-days atheism itself is culpa levis, as 
compared with criticism of existing property relations. Never 
theless, there is an unmistakable advance. I refer, e.g., to the 
bluvbook published within the last few weeks : " Correspond 
ence with Her Majesty s Missions Abroad, regarding Indus 
trial Questions and Trades Unions." The representatives of 
the English Crown in foreign countries there declare in so 
many words that in Germany, in France, to be brief, in all 
the civilised states of the European continent, a radical change 
in the existing relations between capital and labor is as 
evident and inevitable as in England. At the same time, on 
the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. Wade, vice-president 
of the United States, declared in public meetings that, after 
the abolition of slavery, a radical change of the relations ol 

1 6 Author s Prefaces. 

capital and of property in land is next upon the order of the 
day. These are signs of the times, not to be hidden by purple 
mantles or black cassocks. They do not signify that to-morrow 
a miracle will happen. They show that, within the ruling- 
classes themselves, a foreboding is dawning, that the present 
society is no solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, 
and is constantly changing. 

The second volume of this work will treat of the process of 
the circulation of capital 1 (Book II.), and of the varied forms 
assumed by capital in the course of its development (Book 
III.), the third and last volume (Book IV.), the history of 
the theory. 

Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome. As 
to the prejudices of so-called public opinion, to which I have 
never made concessions, now as aforetime the maxim of the 
great Florentine is mine: 

"Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti." 

LONDON, July 25, 1867. 


To the present moment Political Economy, in Germany, is 
a foreign science. Gustav von Giilich in his "Historical de 
scription of Commerce, Industry," &c., 2 especially in the two 
first volumes published in 1830, has examined at length the 
historical circumstances that prevented, in Germany, the de 
velopment of the capitalist mode of production, and conse 
quently the development, in that country, of modern bourgeois 
society. Thus the soil whence Political Economy springs was 

*On p. 618 the author explains what he comprise* under this head. 
2 Geschichtliche Darstellung des Handels, der Gewerbe und des Acker- 
baus, &c., von Gustav von Gtilich. 5 vols., Jena, 1830-45. 

Author s Prefaces. 17 

wanting. This "science" had to be imported from England 
and France as a ready-made article; its German professors 
remained schoolboys. The theoretical expression of a foreign 
reality was turned, in their hands, into a collection of dogmas, 
interpreted by them in terms of the petty trading world around 
them, and therefore misinterpreted. The feeling of scientific 
impotence, a feeling *iot wholly to be repressed, and the uneasy 
consciousness of haviag to touch a subject in reality foreign to 
them, was but imperfectly concealed, either under a parade 
of literary and historical erudition, or by an admixture of 
extraneous material, borrowed from the so-called "Kameral" 
sciences, a medley of smatterings, through whose purgatory 
the hopeless candidate for the German bureaucracy has to pass. 

Since 1848 capitalist production has developed rapidly in 
Germany, and at the present time it is in the full bloom of 
speculation find swindling. But fate is still unpropitious to 
our professional economists. At the time when they were 
able to deal with Political Economy in a straightforward 
fashion, modern economic conditions did not actually exist 
in Germany. And as soon as these conditions did come into 
existence, they did so under circumstances that no longer al 
lowed of their being really and impartially investigated within 
the bounds of the bourgeois horizon. In so far as Political 
Economy remains within that horizon, in so far, i.e., as the 
capitalist regime is looked upon as the absolutely^ final form 
of social production, instead of^asj^ passing historical phase 
of its evolution, Political Economy can remain a science only 
so long as the class-stniggle is latent or manifests itself only 
in isolated and sporadic phenomena. 

Let us take England. Its political economy belongs to the 
period in which the class-struggle was as yet undeveloped. 
Its last great representative, Ricardo, in the end, consciously 
makes the antagonism of class-interests, of wages and profits, 

i8 Author s Prefaces. 

<af profits and rent, the starting-point of his investigations, 
naively taking this antagonism for a social law of nature. 
But by this start the science of bourgeois economy had reached 
the limits beyond which it could not pass. Already in the life 
time of Ricardo, and in opposition to him, it was met by criti 
cism, in the person of Sismondi. 1 

The succeeding period, from 1820 to 1830, was notable in 
England for scientific activity in the domain of Political 
Economy. It was the time as well of the vulgarising and 
extending of Ricardo s theory, as of the contest of that theory 
with the old school. Splendid tournaments were held. What 
was done then, is little known to the Continent generally, be 
cause the polemic is for the most part scattered through articles 
in reviews, occasional literature and pamphlets. The un 
prejudiced character of this polemic although the theory of 
Ricardo already serves, in exceptional cases, as a weapon of 
attack upon bourgeois economy is explained by the circum 
stances of the time. On the one hand, modern industry itself 
was only just emerging from the age of childhood, as is shown 
by the fact that with the crisis of 1825 it for the first time 
opens the periodic cycle of its modern life. On the other 
hand, the class-struggle between capital and labor is forced 
into the background, politically by the discord between the 
governments and the feudal aristocracy gathered around the 
Holy Alliance on the one hand, and the popular masses, led 
by the bourgeoisie on the other; economically by the quarrel 
between industrial capital and aristocratic landed property a 
quarrel that in France was concealed by the opposition between 
small and large landed property, and that in England broke 
out openly after the Corn Laws. The literature of Political 
Economy in England at this time calls to mind the stormy 
forward movement in France after Dr. Quesnay s death, but 
i See my work "Critique, &c.," p. 70. 

Author s Prefaces. 19 

only as a Saint Martin s summer reminds us of spring. With 
the year 1830 came the decisive crisis. 

In France and in England the bourgeoisie had conquered 
political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, practically 
as well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and 
threatening forms. It sounded the knell of scientific bour 
geois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, 
whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was 
useful to capital or harmful, expedient or inexpedient, polit 
ically dangerous or not. In place of disinterested enquirers, 
there were hired prize-fighters; in place of genuine scientific 
research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic. 
Still, even the obtrusive pamphlets with which the Anti-Corn 
Law League, led by the manufacturers Cobden and Bright, 
deluged the world, have a historic interest, if no scientific one, 
on account of their polemic against the landed aristocracy. 
But since then the Free Trade legislation, inaugurated by 
Sir Robert Peel, has deprived vulgar economy of this its last 

The Continental revolution of 1848-9 also had its reaction 
in England. Men who still claimed some scientific standing 
and aspired to be something more than mere sophists and syco 
phants of the ruling-classes, tried to harmonise the Political 
Economy of capital with the claims, no longer to be ignored, 
of the proletariat Hence a shallow syncretism, of which 
John Stuart Mill is the best representative. It is a declaration 
of bankruptcy by bourgeois economy, an event on which the 
great Russian scholar and critic, N. Tschernyschewsky, has 
thrown the light of a master mind in his "Outlines of Political 
Economy according to Mill." 

In Germany, therefore, the capitalist mode of production 
came to a head, after its antagonistic character had already, 
in France and England, shown itself in a fierce strife of 

2O Author s Prefaces. 

classes. And meanwhile, moreover, the German proletariat 
had attained a much more clear class-consciousness than the 
German bourgeoisie. Thus, at the very moment when a bour 
geois science of political economy seemed at last possible in 
Germany, it had in reality again become impossible. 

Under these circumstances its professors fell into two groups. 
The one set> prudent, practical business folk, flocked to the 
banner of Bastiat, the most superficial and therefore the most 
adequate representative of the apologetic of vulgar economy; 
the other, proud of the professorial dignity of their science, 
followed John Stuart Mill in his attempt to reconcile irrecon- 
eilables. Just as in the classical time of bourgeois economy, 
so also in the time of its decline, the Germans remained mere 
schoolboys, imitators and followers, petty retailers and hawk 
ers in the service of the great foreign wholesale concern. 

The peculiar historic development of German society there 
fore forbids, in that country, all original work in bourgeois 
economy; but not the criticism of that economy. So far as 
such criticism represents a class, it can only represent the class 
whose vocation in history is the overthrow of the capitalist 
mode of production and the final abolition of all classes the 

The learned and unlearned spokesmen of the German bour 
geoisie tried at first to kill "Das Kapital" by silence, as they 
had managed to do with my earlier writings. As soon as they 
found that these tactics no longer fitted in with the conditions 
of the time, they wrote, under pretence of criticising my book, 
prescriptions "for the tranquillisation of the bourgeois mind." 
But they found in the workers press see, e.g., Joseph Dietz- 
gen s articles in the "Volksstaat" antagonists stronger than 
themselves, to whom (down to this very day) they owe a 
reply. 1 
iThe mealy-mouthed babblers of German vulgar economy fell /oul of 

Author s Prefaces. 21 

An excellent Russian translation of "Das Kapital" appeared 
in the spring of 1872. The edition of 3000 copies is already 
nearly exhausted. As early as 1871, A. Sieber, Professor of 
Political Economy in the University of Kiev, in his work 
"David Ricardo s Theory of Value and of Capital," referred 
to my theory of value, of money and of capital, as in its 
fundamentals a necessary sequel to the teaching of Smith and 
Ricardo. That which astonishes the Western European in 
the reading of this excellent work, is the author s consistent 
and firm grasp of the purely theoretical position. 

That the method employed in "Das Kapital" has been little 
understood, is shown by the various conceptions, contradictory 
one to another, that have been formed of it. 

Thus the Paris Revue Positiviste reproaches me in that, on 
the one hand, I treat economics metaphysically, and on the 
other hand imagine! confine myself to the mere critical 
analysis of actual facts, instead of writing recipes (Comtist 
ones ?) for the cook-shops of the future. In answer to the 
reproach in re metaphysics, Professor Sieber has it: "In so 
far as it deals with actual theory, the method of Marx is the 
deductive method of the whole English school, a school whose 
failings and virtues are common to the best theoretic econ- 

the style of my book. No one can feel the literary shortcomings in "Das 
Kapital" more strongly than I myself. Yet I will for the benefit and 
the enjoyment of these gentlemen and their public quote in this connec 
tion one English and one Russian notice. The "Saturday Review," al 
ways hostile to my views, said in its notice of the first edition: "The 
presentation of the subject invests the driest economic questions with a 
certain peculiar charm/ The "St. Petersburg Journal" ( Sankt-Peter- 
burgskie Viedomosti ) , in its issue of April 20, 1872, says : "The presen 
tation of the subject, with the exception of one or two exceptionally spe 
cial parts, is distinguished by its comprehensibility by the general reader, 
its clearness, and in spite of the scientific intricacy of the subject, by an 
unusual liveliness. In this respect the author in no way resembles 
. . . the majority of German scholars who . . . write their books 
in a language so dry and obscure that the heads of ordinary mortals are 
cocked tjy it." 

22 Author s Prefaces. 

omists." M. Block "Les theoriciens du socialisme en Alle- 
magne, Extrait du Journal des Economistes, Juillet et Aout 
1872" makes the discovery that my method is analytic and 
says: "Par cet ouvrage M. Marx se classe panni les esprits 
analytiques les plus eminents." German reviews, of course, 
shriek out at "Hegelian sophistics." The European Messenger 
of St. Petersburg, in an article dealing exclusively with the 
method of "Das Kapital" (May number, 1872, pp. 427-436), 
finds my method of inquiry severely realistic, but my method 
of presentation, unfortunately, German-dialectical. It says: 
"At first sight, if the judgment is based on the external form 
of the presentation of the subject, Marx is the most ideal of 
ideal philosophers, always in the German, i.e., the bad sense 
of the word. But in point of fact he is infinitely more realis 
tic than all his fore-runners in the work of economic criticism. 
He can in no sense be called an idealist" I cannot answer 
the writer better than by aid of a few extracts from his own 
criticism, which may interest some of my readers to whom 
the Russian original is inaccessible. 

After a quotation from the preface to my "Critique of 
Political Economy," Berlin, 1859, pp. 11-13, where I discuss 
the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on: 
"The one thing which is of moment to Marx is to find the law 
of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; 
and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs 
these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and 
mutual connection within a given historical period. Of still 
greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their 
development, i.e., of their transition from one form into 
another, from one series of connections into a different one. 
This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects 
in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx 
only troubles himself about one thing ; to show, by rigid 

Author s Prefaces. 23 

tific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate 
orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as 
possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting 
points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same 
time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and 
the necessity of another order into which the first must 
jneyjtably pass overj__and JhJ8jdl_thj9 . saj 

believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or un 
conscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process 
of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of 
human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the 
contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. 
... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element 
plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical 
inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than 
anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, 
consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the 
material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. 
Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and 
the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another 
fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both 
facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they 
actually form, each with respect to the other, different mo 
menta of an evolution ; but most important of all is the rigid 
analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and 
concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolu 
tion present themselves. But it will be sajd^ jthe^eneral laws 
of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether 
they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly 
denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. 
On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has 
laws of its own. ... As soon as society has outlived a given 
period of development, and is passing over from one given 

24 Author s Prefaces. 

stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. 
In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous 
to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The 
old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws 
when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. 
A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social 
organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants 
or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under 
quite different laws in consequence of the different structure 
of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their 
individual organs, of the different conditions in which those 
organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of 
population is the same at all times and in all places. He 
asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has 
its own law of population. . . . With the varying degree of 
development of productive power, social conditions and the 
laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the 
task of following and explaining from this point of view the 
economic system established by the sway of capital, he is 
only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that 
every accurate investigation into economic life must have. 
The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing 
of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, develop 
ment, and death a given social organism and its replacement 
by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point 
of fact, Marx s book has." 

Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my 
method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own 
application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but 
the dialectic method? 

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form 
from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the ma 
terial in detail, to analyse its different forms of development, 

Author s Prefaces. 2$ 

to trace out their inner connection. Only after this work is 
done, can the actual movement be adequately described. If 
this is done successfully, if the life of the subject-matter is 
ideally reflected as in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had 
before us a mere a priori construction. 

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegel 
ian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of 
the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under 
the name of "the Idea," he even transforms into an inde 
pendent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the 
real world is only the external, phenomenal form of "the 
Idea." With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else 
than the material world reflected by the human mind, and 
translated into forms of thought 

The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised nearly 
thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But 
just as I was working at the first volume of "Das Kapital," 
it was the good pleasure of the peevish, arrogant, mediocre 
Eirtyovoiwho now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat 
Hegel in the same way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in 
Lessing s time treated Spinoza, i.e., as a "dead dog." I there 
fore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, 
and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, 
coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The 
mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel s hands, by no 
means prevents him from being the first to present its general 
form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. 
With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right 
side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within 
the mystical shell. 

In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Ger 
many, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the 
existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal 

26 Author s Prefaces. 

and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire pro 
fessors, because it includes in its comprehension and af 
firmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the 
same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, 
of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every his 
torically developed social form as in fluid movement, and 
therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than 
its momentary existence ; because it lets nothing impose upon 
it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary. 

The contradictions inherent in the movement of capitalist 
society impress themselves upon the practical bourgeois most 
strikingly in the changes of the periodic cycle, through which 
modern industry runs, and whose crowning point is the uni 
versal crisis. That crisis is once again approaching, although 
as yet but in its preliminary stage ; and by the universality of 
its theatre and the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics 
even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy 
Prusso-German empire. 


LONDON, January 24, 1873. 


publication of an English version of "Das Kapital" 
needs no apology. On the contrary, an explanation 
might be expected why this English version has been delayed 
until now, seeing that for some years past the theories advo 
cated in this book have been constantly referred to, attacked 
and defended, interpreted and mis-interpreted, in the period 
ical press and the current literature of both England and 

When, soon after the author s death in 1883, it became 
evident that an English edition of the work was really re 
quired, Mr. Samuel Moore, for many years a friend of Marx 
and of the present writer, and than whom, perhaps, no one 
is more conversant with the book itself, consented to undertake 
the translation which the literary executors of Marx were 
anxious to lay before the public. It was understood that I 
should compare the MS. with the original work, and suggest 
such alterations as I might deem advisable. When, by and 
by, it was found that Mr. Moore s professional occupations 
prevented him from finishing the translation as quickly as 
we all desired, we gladly accepted Dr. Aveling s offer to 
undertake a portion of the work; at the same time Mrs. 
Aveling, Marx s youngest daughter, offered to check the 
quotations and to restore the original text of the numerous 
passages taken from English authors and Bluebooks and trans 
lated by Marx into German. This has been done throughout, 
with but a few unavoidable exceptions. 


28 Editor s Preface. 

The following portions of the book have been translated by 
Dr. Aveling: (1) Chapters X. (The Working Day), and 
XL (Rate and Mass of Surplus- Value ); (2) Part VI. 
(Wages, comprising Chapters XIX. to XXII.) ; (3) from 
Chapter XXI V, Section 4 (Circumstances that c.) to the 
end of the book, comprising the latter part of Chapter XXIV., 
Chapter XXV. ; and the whole of Part VIII. (Chapters 
XXVI. to XXXIII.); (4) the two Author s prefaces. All 
the rest of the book has been done by Mr. Moore. While, 
thus, each of the translators is responsible for his share of the 
work only, I bear a joint responsibility for the whole. 

The third German edition, which has been made the basis 
of our work throughout, was prepared by me, in 1883, with 
the assistance of notes left by the author, indicating the 
passages of the second edition to be replaced by designated 
passages, from the French text published in 1873. 1 The alter 
ations thus effected in the text of the second edition generally 
coincided with changes prescribed by Marx in a set of MS. 
instructions for an English translation that was planned, 
about ten years ago, in America, but abandoned chiefly for 
want of a fit and proper translator. This MS. was placed 
at our disposal by our old friend Mr. F. A. Sorge of Hoboken 
N.J. It designates some further interpolations from the 
French edition ; but> being so many years older than the final 
instructions for the third edition, I did not consider myself 
at liberty to make use of it otherwise than sparingly, and 
chiefly in cases where it helped us over difficulties. In the 
same way, the French text has been referred to in most of 
the difficult passages, as an indicator of what the author him 
self was prepared to sacrifice wherever something of the full 

i "Le Capital," par Karl Marx. Traduction de M. J. Roy, entiere- 
ment revisee par 1 auteur. Paris. Lachatre." This translation, especially 
in the latter part of the book, contains considerable alterations in and 
additions to the text of the second German edition. 

Editor s Preface. 29 

import of the original had to be sacrificed in the rendering. 
There is, however, one difficulty we could not spare the 
reader : the use of certain terms in a sense different from what 
they have, not only in common life, but in ordinary political 
economy. But this was unavoidable. Every new aspect of 
a science involves a revolution in the technical terms of that 
science. This is best shown by chemistry, where the whole 
of the terminology is radically changed about once in twenty 
years, and where you will hardly find a single organic com 
pound that has not gone through a whole series of different 
names. Political Economy has generally been content to take, 
just as they were, the terms of commercial and industrial life, 
and to operate with them, entirely failing to see that by so 
doing, it confined itself within the narrow circle of ideas ex 
pressed by those terms. Thus, though perfectly aware that 
both profits and rent are but sub-divisions, fragments of that 
unpaid part of the product which the laborer has to supply 
to his employer (its first appropriator, though not its ultimate 
exclusive owner), yet even classical Political Economy never 
went beyond the received notions of profits and rent, never ex 
amined this unpaid part of the product (called by Marx sur 
plus-product) 1m its integrity as a whole, and -therefore never 
arrived at a clear comprehension, either of it: origin and 
nature, or of the laws that regulate the subsequent distribution 
of its value. Similarly all industry, not agricultural or 
handicraft, is indiscriminately comprised in the term of manu 
facture, and thereby the distinction is obliterated between 
two great and essentially different periods of economic history: 
the period of manufacture proper, based on the division of 
manual labor, and the period of modern industry based or, 
machinery. It is, however, self-evident that a theory which 
views modern capitalist production as a mere passing stage in 
the economic lastoty of mankind, must make use of terms 

3o Editor s Preface. 

different from those habitual to writers who look upon that 
form of production as* imperishable and final. 

A word respecting the author s method of quoting may not 
be out of place. In the majority of cases, the quotations serve, 
in the usual way, as documentary evidence in support of 
assertions made in the text. But in many instances, passages 
from economic writers are quoted in order to indicate when, 
where, and by whom a certain proposition was for the first 
time clearly enunciated. This is done in cases where the 
proposition quoted is of importance as being a more or less 
adequate expression of the conditions of social production 
and exchange prevalent at the time, and quite irrespective 
of Marx s recognition, or otherwise, of its general validity. 
These quotations, therefore, supplement the text by a running 
commentary taken from the history of the science. 

Our translation comprises the first book of the work only. 
But this first book is in a great measure a whole in itself, 
and has for twenty years ranked as an independent work. 
The second book, edited in German by me, in 1885, is de 
cidedly incomplete without the third, which cannot be pub 
lished before the end of 1887. When Book III. has been 
brought out in the original German, it will then be soon 
enough to think about preparing an English edition of both. 

"Das Kapital" is often called, on the Continent^ "the Bible 
of the working class." That the conclusions arrived at in 
this work are ddly more and more becoming the fundamental 
principles of the great working class movement, not only in 
Germany and Switzerland, but in ITrnnce, in Holland and 
Belgium, in America, and even in Italy and Spain ; that every 
where the working class more and more recognises, in these 
conclusions, the most adequate expression of its condition and 
of its aspirations, nobody acquainted with that movement will 
deny. And in England, too, the theories of Marx, even at this 

Editor s Preface. 31 

moment, exercise a powerful influence upon the socialist move 
ment which is spreading in the ranks of "cultured" people 
no less than in those of the working class. But that is not 
all. The time is rapidly approaching when a thorough ex 
amination of England s economic position will impose itself 
as an irresistible national necessity. The working of the in 
dustrial system of this country, impossible without a constant 
and rapid extension of production, and therefore of markets, 
is coming to n dead stop. Free trade has exhausted its re 
sources; even Manchester doubts this its quondam economic 
gospel. 1 Foreign industry, rapidly developing, stares Eng 
lish production in the face everywhere, not only in protected, 
but also in neutral markets, and even on this side of the 
Channel. While the productive power increases in a geomet 
ric, the extension of markets proceeds at best ifi an arithmetic 
ratio. The decennial cycle of stagnation, prosperity, over 
production and crisis, ever recurrent from 1825 to 1867, 
seems indeed to have run its course ; but only to land us in the 
slough of despond of a permanent and chronic depression. 
The sighed-for period of prosperity will not come; as often 
as we seem to perceive its heralding symptoms, so often do 
they again vanish into air. Meanwhile, each succeeding winter 
brings up afresh the great question, "what to do with the 
unemployed ;" but while the number of the unemployed keeps 
swelling from year to year, there is nobody to answer that 
question ; and we can almost calculate the moment when the \ 
unemployed, losing patience, will take their own fate into 

i At the quarterly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 
held this afternoon, a warm discussion took place on the subject of Free 
Trade. A resolution was moved to the effect that "having waited in vain 
40 years for other nations to follow the Free Trade example of England, 
this Chamber thinks the time has now arrived to reconsider that posi 
tion/ TTie resolution was rejected by a majority of one only, the 
figures being 21 for, and 22 against. Evening Standard, Nov. 1, 1886. 

32 Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 

their own hands. Surely, at such a moment, the .jyoic_e ought 
to be heard of a man whose whole theory is the result, of _ a 
life-long study of the economic history and condition of Eng 
land, and whom that study led to the conclusion that, at least 
in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable 
social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and 
legal means. He certainly never forgot to add that he hardly 
expected the English ruling classes to submit, without a "pro- 
slavery rebellion," to this peaceful and legal revolution. 

November 5, 1886. 


The fourth edition of this work required of me a revision, 
which should give to the text and foot notes their final form, 
so far as possible. The following brief hints will indicate 
the way in which I performed this task. 

After referring once more to the French edition and to the 
manuscript notes of Marx, I transferred a few additional pass 
ages from the French to the German text. 1 

I have also placed the long foot note concerning the Miine 
workers, on pages 461-67, into the text, just as had already 
been done in the French and English editions. Other small 
changes are merely of a technical nature. 

Furthermore I added a few explanatory notes, especially 
in places where changed historical conditions seemed to require 
it. All these additional notes are placed between brackets 
and marked with my initials. 2 

1 These were inserted by me in the English text of the Swan Sonnen- 
schein edition, and will be found on pages 539, 640-644, 687-689, and 
692 of this American edition. E. U. 

2 These were ten new notes, which I inserted in the respective place? of 
the Swan Sonnenschein edition. E. U. 

Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 33 

A complete revision of the numerous quotations had become 
necessary, because the English edition had been published in 
the mean time. Marx s youngest daughter, Eleanor, had un 
dertaken the tedious task of comparing, for this edition, all 
the quotations with the original works, so that the quotations 
from English authors, which are the overwhelming majority, 
are not retranslated from the German, but taken from the 
original texts. I had to consult the English edition for this 
fourth German edition. In so doing I found many small 
inaccuracies. There were references to wrong pages, due 
either to mistakes in copying, or to accumulated typographical 
errors of three editions. There were quotation marks, or 
periods indicating omissions, in wrong places, such as would 
easily occur in making copious quotations from notes. Now 
and then I came across a somewhat inappropriate choice of 
terms made in translating. Some passages were taken from 
Marx s old manuscripts written in Paris, 1843-45, when he 
did not yet understand English and read the works of English 
economists in French translations. This twofold translation 
carried with it a slight change of expression, for instance in 
the case of Steuart, Ure, and others. Now I used the English 
text. Such and similar little inaccuracies and inadvertences 
were corrected. And if this fourth edition is now compared 
with former editions, it will be found tha4-4hi3 whole tedious 
process of verification did not change in the least any essential 
statement of this work. There is but one single quotation 
which could not be located, namely that from Richard Jones, 
in section 3 of chapter XXIV. Marx probably made a mis 
take in the title of the book. All other quotations retain their 
corroborative power, or even increase it in their present exact 

In this connection I must revert to an old story. 

X have heard of only one case, in which the genuineness of 

34? Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 

a quotation by Marx was questioned. Since this case was 
continued beyond Marx s death, I cannot well afford to ignore 

The Berlin Concordia, the organ of the German Manufac-. 
turer s Association, published on March 7, 1872, an anony 
mous article, entitled : "How Marx Quotes." In it the writer 
asserted with a superabundant display of moral indignation 
and unparliamentarian expressions that the quotation from 
Gladstone s budget speech of April 16, 1863, (cited in the 
Inaugural Address of the International Workingmen s Asso 
ciation, 1864, and republished in Capital, volume I, chapter 
XXV, section 5 a) was a falsification. It was denied that the 
statement: "This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and 
power . . . entirely confined to classes of property," was 
contained in the stenographical report of Hansard, which was 
as good as an official report. "This statement is not found 
anywhere in Gladstone s speech. It says just the reverse. 
Marx has formally and materially lied in adding that sen 

Marx, who received this issue of the Concordia in May of 
the same year, replied to the anonymous writer in the Volks- 
staat of June 1. As he did not remember the particular 
newspaper from which he had clipped this report, he con 
tented himself with pointing out that the same quotation was 
contained in two English papers. Then he quoted the report 
of the Times, according to which Gladstone had said : "That 
is the state of the case as regards the wealth of this country. 
I must say for one, I should look almost with apprehension 
and with pain upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth 
and power, if it were my belief that it was confined to classes 
who are in easy circumstances. This takes no cognizance at 
all of the condition of the labouring population. The aug 
mentation I have described and which is founded, I think, 

Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition 35 

apon accurate terms, is an augmentation entirely confined to 
classes of property." 

In other words, Gladstone says here that he would be sorry 
if things were that way, but they are. This intoxicating aug 
mentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes 
of property. And so far as the quasi official Hansard is con 
cerned, Marx continues : "In the subsequent manipulation of 
his speech for publication Mr. Gladstone was wise enough to 
eliminate a passage, which was so compromising in the mouth 
of an English Lord of the Exchequer as that one. By the 
way, this is an established custom in English parliament, and 
not by any means a discovery made by Lasker to cheat Bebel." 

The anonymous writer then became still madder. Pushing 
aside his second-hand sources in his reply in the Concordia, 
July 4, he modestly hints, that it is the "custom" to quote 
parliamentarian speeches from the official reports; that the 
report of the Times (which contained the added lie) "was 
materially identical" with that of Hansard (which did not 
contain it) ; that the report of the Times even said "just the 
reverse of what that notorious passage of the Inaugural Ad 
dress implied." Of course, our anonymous friend keeps still 
about the fact that the report of the Times does not only con 
tain "just the reverse," but also "that notorious passage"! 
Nevertheless he feels that he has been nailed down, and that 
only a new trick can save him. Hence he decorates his article, 
full of "insolent mendacity," until it bristles with pretty 
epithets, such as "bad faith," "dishonesty," "mendacious as 
sertion," "that lying quotation," "insolent mendacity," "a 
completely spurious quotation," "this falsification," "simply 
infamous," etc., and he finds himself compelled to shift the 
discussion to another ground, promising "to explain in a sec 
ond article, what interpretation we [the "veracious" anony 
mous] place upon the meaning of Gladstone s words." As 

36 Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 

though his individual opinion had anything to do with the 
matter! This second article is published in the Concordia 
of July 11. 

Marx replied once more in the Volksstaat of August 7, 
quoting also the reports of this passage in the Morning Star 
and Morning Advertiser of April 17, 1863. Both of them 
agree in quoting Gladstone to the effect that he would look 
with apprehension, etc., upon this intoxicating augmentation 
of wealth and power, if it were confined to classes in easy cir 
cumstances. But this augmentation was entirely confined to 
classes possessed of property. Both of these papers also con 
tain the "added lie" word for word. Marx furthermore 
showed, by comparing these three independent, yet identical 
reports of newspapers, all of them containing the actually 
spoken worr3s of Gladstone, with Hansard s report, that Glad 
stone, in keeping with the "established custom," had "sub 
sequently eliminated" this sentence, as Marx had said. And 
Marx closes with the statement, that he has no time for further 
controversy with the anonymous writer. It seems that this 
worthy had gotten all he wanted, for Marx received no more 
issues of the Concordia. 

Thus the matter seemed to be settled. It is true, people 
who were in touch with the university at Cambridge once or 
twice dropped hints as to mysterious rumors about some un 
speakable literary crime, which Marx was supposed to have 
committed in Capital. But nothing definite could be ascer 
tained in spite of all inquiries. Suddenly, on November 29, 
1883, eight months after the death of Marx, a letter appeared 
in the Times, dated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and signed 
by Sedley Taylor, in which this mannikin, a dabbler in the 
tamest of cooperative enterprises, at last took occasion to give 
us some light, not only on the gossip of Cambridge, but also 
on the anonymous of the Concordia. 

Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 37 

"What seems very queer," says the mannikin of Trinity 
College, "is that it remained for professor Brenta-no (then in 
Breslau, now in Strasburg) ... to lay bare the bad 
faith, which had apparently dictated that quotation from 
Gladstone s speech in the Inaugural Address. Mr. Karl Marx, 
who . . . tried to justify his quotation, had the temerity, 
in the deadly shifts to which Brentano s masterly attacks 
quickly reduced him, to claim that Mr. Gladstone tampered 
with the report of his speech in the Times of April 17, 1863, 
before it was published in Hansard, in order to eliminate a 
passage which was, indeed, compromising for the British 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. When Brentano demonstrated 
by a detailed comparison of the texts, that the reports of the 
Times and of Hansard agreed to the absolute exclusion of the 
meaning, impugned to Gladstone s words by a craftily isolated 
quotation, Marx retreated under the excuse of having no time." 

This, then^ was the_JEernel of the walnut! And such was 
the glorious reflex of Brentano s anonymous campaign, in the 
Concordia, in the cooperative imagination of Cambridge! 
Thus he lay, and thus he handled his blade in his "masterly 
attack," this Saint George of the German Manufacturers As 
sociation, while the fiery dragon Marx quickly expired under 
his feet "in deadly shifts !" 

However, this Ariostian description of the struggle serves 
only to cover up the shifts of our Saint George. There is no 
longer any mention of "added lies," of "falsification," but 
merely of "a craftily isolated quotation." The whole question 
had been shifted, and Saint George and his Cambridge Knight 
knew very well the reason. 

Eleanor Marx replied in the monthly magazine To-Day, 
February, 1884, because the Times refused to print her state 
ments. She reduced the discussion to the only point, which 
was in question, namely: Was that sentence a lie added by 

38 Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 

Marx, or not ? Whereupon Mr. Sedley Taylor retorted : "The 
question whether a certain sentence had occurred in Mr. Glad 
stone s speech or not" was, in his opinion, "of a very inferior 
importance" in the controversy between Marx and Brentano, 
"compared with the question, whether the quotation had been 
made with the intention of reproducing the meaning of Mr. 
Gladstone or distorting it" And then he admits that the 
report of the Times "contains indeed a contradiction in 
words"; but, but, interpreting the context correctly, that is, 
in a liberal Gladstonian sense, it is evident what Mr. Gladstone 
intended to say. (To-Day, March, 1884.) The comic thing 
about this retort is that our mannikin of Cambridge now in 
sists on not quoting this speech from Hansard, as is the 
"custom" according to the anonymous Mr. Brentano, but from 
the report of the Times, which the same Brentano had desig 
nated as "necessarily bungling." Of course, Hansard does 
not contain that fatal sentence ! 

It was easy for Eleanor Marx to dissolve this argumentation 
into thin air in the same number of To-Day. Either Mr. 
Taylor had read the controversy of 1872. In that case he had 
now "lied," not only "adding," but also "subtracting." Or, 
he had not read it. Then it was his business to keep his 
mouth shut. At any rate, it was evident that he did not dare 
for a moment to maintain the charge of his friend Brentano 
to the effect that Marx had "added a lie." On he contrary, 
it was now claimed, that Marx, instead of adding a lie, had 
suppressed an important sentence. But this same sentence is 
quoted on page 5 of the Inaugural Address, a few lines before 
the alleged "added lie." And as for the "contradiction" in 
Gladstone s speech, isn t it precisely Marx who speaks in 
another foot note of that chapter in Capital of the "continual 
crying contradictions in Gladstone s budget speeches of 1868 
and 1864" ? Of course, he does not undertake TO reconcile 

Editor s Preface to the Fourth German Edition. 39 

them by liberal hot air, like Sedley Taylor. And the final 
summing up in Eleanor Marx s reply is this: "On the con 
trary, Marx has neither suppressed anything essential nor 
added any lies. He rather has restored and rescued from 
oblivion a certain sentence of a Gladstonian speech, which had 
undoubtedly been pronounced, but which somehow found its 
way out of Hansard." 

This was enough for Mr. Sedley Taylor. The result of 
this whole professorial gossip during ten years and in two 
great countries was that no one dared henceforth to question 
Marx s literary conscientiousness. In the future Mr. Sedley 
Taylor will probably have as little confidence in the literary 
fighting bulletins of Mr. Brentano, as Mr. Brentano in thf 
papal infallibility of Hansard. 


LONDON, June 25, 1890. 

(Translated by Ernest Untermann.) 







THE wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode 
of production prevails, presents itself as " an immense 
accumulation of commodities," * its unit being a single com 
modity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the 
analysis of a commodity. 

A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a 
thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort 
or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, 
they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no differ- 

* Karl Marx " A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy," 1859, 
London, p. 19. 

42 Capitalist Production. 

ence. 1 Neither are we here concerned to know how the object 
satisfies these wants, whether directly as means of subsistence, 
or indirectly as means of production. 

Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c., may be looked at 
from the two points of view of quality and quantity. It is 
an assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of 
use in various ways. To discover the various use of things is 
the work of history. 2 So also is the establishment of socially- 
recognised standards of measure for the quantities of these 
useful objects. The diversity of these measures has its origin 
partly in the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, 
partly in convention. 

The utility of a thing makes it a use-value. 8 But this 
utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical 
properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from 
that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a 
diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use- 
value, something useful. This property of a commodity is 
independent of the amount 01 labour required to appropriate 
its useful qualities. When treating of use-value, we always 
assume to be dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens 
j of watches, yards of linen, or "tons of iron. The use-values of 
commodities furnish the material for a special study, that 
of the commercial knowledge of commodities. 4 Use-values 
become a reality only by use or consumption : they also con- 

1 " Desire implhs want; t ? the appetite of the mind, and as natural as hunger 
to the bod> . . . The -Teate.. number (of things) have their value from supply- 
Ing the wants of the mind." Nicolas Barbon: "A Discourse on coining the new 
money lighter, in answer to Mr. Locke s Considerations," &c. London, 1696. p. 
2, 3. 

* "Things have an intrinsick virtue" (this is Barbon s special term for value in 
use) "which in all places ive the same virtue; as the loadstone to attract iron" 
(1. c., p. 6). The property - hich the magnet possesses of attracting iron, became 
of use only after by means of that property the polarity of the magnet had been 

"The natural worth of anything consists in its fitness to supply the necessities, 
or serve the conveniences of human life." (John Locke, "Some considerations on 
the consequences of the lowering of interest, 1691," in Works Edit London, 1777, 
Vol. II., p. 28.) In English writers of the 17th century we frequently find "worth" 
in the sense of value in use, and "value" in the sense of exchange value. This 
is quite in accordance with the spirit of a language that likes to use a Teutonic 
word for the actual thing, and a Romance word for its reflexion. 

4 in oourgeois societies tne economical hctao *" prevails, that every one, as a 
buyer, possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of commodities. 

Commodities. 43 

stitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social 
form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to ) 
consider, they are, in addition^ the material depositories of 
exchange value. 

Exchange value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantitative 
relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort 
are exchanged for those of another sort, 1 a relation constantly 
changing with time and place. Hence exchange value appears 
to be something accidental and purely relative, and conse 
quently an intrinsic value, i. e., an exchange value that is 
inseparably connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a 
contradiction in terms. 2 Let us consider the matter a little 
more closely. 

A given commodity, e. g. t a quarter of wheat is exchanged 
for x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c. in short, for other com 
modities in the most different proportions. Instead of one 
exchange value, the wheat has, therefore, a great many. But 
since x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c., each represent the 
exchange value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, 
z gold, &c., must as exchange values be replaceable by each 
other, or equal to each other. Therefore, first: the valid 
exchange values of a given commodity express something 
equal; secondly, exchange value, generally, is only the mode 
of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained 
in it, yet distinguishable from it. 

Let us take two commodities, e. g. t corn and iron. The pro 
portions in which they are exchangeable, whatever those pro 
portions may be, can always be represented by an equation in 
which a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of 
iron : e. g., 1 quarter corn=x cwt iron. What does this equa 
tion tell us ? It tells us that in two different things in 1 
quarter of corn and x cwL of iron, there exists in equal quan 
tities jomething common to both. The two things must there- 

1 "La valeur consiste dans le rapport d change qui BC trouve entre telle chose et 
telle autre, entre telle mesure d une production, et telle mesure d une autre." (Le 
Trosne: De 1 Inte>et Social. Physiocrates, Ed. Daire, Paris, 1845. P. 889.) 

1 "Nothing can have an intrinsick value." (N. Barbon, 1. c., p. 6) ; or as But 
ler says 

" The value of a thing 
Is just as much at it will bring," 

44 Capitalist Production. 

fore be equal to a third, which in itself is neither the one noi 
the other. Each of them, so far as it is exchange value, must 
therefore be reducible to this third. 

A simple geometrical illustration will make this clear. In 
order to calculate and compare the areas of rectilinear figures, 
we decompose them into triangles. But the area of the tri 
angle itself is expressed by something totally different from its 
visible figure, namely, by half the product of the base into 
the altitude. In the same way the exchange values of com 
modities must be capable of being expressed in terms of some 
thing common to them all, of which thing they represent a 
greater or less quantity. 

This common "something" cannot be either a geometrical, 
a chemical, or any other natural property of commodities. 
Such properties claim our attention only in so far as they 
affect the utility of those commodities, make them use-values. 
But the exchange of commodities is evidently an act character 
ised by a total abstraction from use-value. Then one use- 
value is just as good as another, provided only it be present in 
sufficient quantity. Or, as old Barbon says, "one sort of 
wares are as good as another, if the values be equal. There is 
no difference or distinction in things of equal value . . . . 
An hundred pounds worth of lead or iron, is of as great value 
as one hundred pounds worth of silver or gold." l As use- 
values, commodities are, above all, of different qualities, but as 
exchange values they are merely different quantities, and con 
sequently do not contain an atom of use-value. 

If then we leave out of consideration the use-value of com 
modities, they have only one common property left, that of 
being products of labour. But even the product of labour 
itself has undergone a change in our hands. If we make 
abstraction from its use-value, we make abstraction at the 
same time from the material elements and shapes that make 
the product a use-value ; we see in it no longer a table, a house, 
yarn, or any other useful thing. Its existence as a material 
thing is put out of sight. Neither can it any longer be re 
garded as the product of the labour of the joiner, the mason, 

N. Barbon, 1. c. p. 53 tad 7. 

Commodities. 45 

the Spinner, or of any other definite kind of productive 
labour. Along with the useful qualities of the products them 
selves, we put out of eight both the useful character of the 
various kinds of labour embodied in them, and the concrete 
forms of that labour ; there is nothing left but what is common 
to them all; all are reduced to one and the same sort of 
labour, human labour in the abstract. 

Let us now consider the residue of each of these products; 
it consists of the same unsubstantial reality in each, ji mere 
congelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour-power ex- 
pended without re.qrard to the mode of its expenditure. All 
that these things now tell us is, that human labour-power has 
been expended in their production, that human labor is em 
bodied in them. When looked at as crystals of this social 
substance, common to them all, they are Values. 

We have seen that when commodities are exchanged, their 
exchange value manifests itself as something totally independ 
ent of their use-value. But if we abstract from their use-value, 
there remains their Value as defined above. Therefore, the 
common substance that manifests itself in the exchange value 
of commodities, whenever they are exchanged, is their value. 
The progress of our investigation will show that exchange 
value is the only form in ^hich the value of commodities can 
manifest itself or be expressed. For the present, however, we 
have to consider the nature of value independently of this, its 

A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only be 
cause human labour in the abstract has been embodied or ma 
terialised in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to 
be measured ? Plainly, by the quantity ofjhe value-creating 
substance, the labour, contained in the article. The quantity 
of labour, however, is measured by its duration, and labour- 
time in its turn finds its standarcMnjwe^^jiaysT an fl ^ our8 - 

Some people" migEtftEink that if the value of a commodity 
is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more 
idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his 
commodity be, because more time would be required in its 
production. The labour, however, that forms the substance of 

46 Capitalist Production. 

value, is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uni 
form labour-power. The total labour-power of society, which 
is embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities 
produced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass 
of human labour-power, composed though it be of innumerable 
individual units. Each of these units is the same as any other, 
so far as it has the character of the average labour-power of 
society, and takes effect as such ; that is, so far as it requires for 
producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an 
average, no more than is socially necessary. The labour-time 
socially necessary is that^quire^^^o3uce an article under 
the normal conditions of production, and with the average 
degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time. The intro 
duction of power looms into England probably reduced by one 
half the labour required to weave a given quantity of yarn into 
cloth. The hand-loom weavers, as a matter of fact, continued 
to require the same time as before; but for all that, the pro- 
| duct of one hour of their labour represented after the change 
only half an hour s social labour, and consequently fell to one- 
half its former value. 

We see then that that which determines the magnitude of 
the value of any article is the amount of labour socially neces 
sary, or the labour- time socially necessary for its production. 1 
Each individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be con 
sidered as an average sample of its class. 2 Commodities, there 
fore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or 
which can be produced in the same time, have the same value. 
The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the 
labour-time necessary for the production of the one is to that 
necessary for the production of the other. "As values, all com 
modities are only definite masses of congealed labour-time." 8 

1 The value of them (the necessaries of life), when they are exchanged the 
one for another, is regulated by the quantity of labour necessarily required, and 
commonly taken in producing them." (Some Thoughts on the Interest of Money 
in general, and particularly in the Publick Funds, &c., Lond., p. 86.) This re 
markable anonymous work, written in the last century, bears no date. It is 
U clear, however, from internal evidence, that it appeared in the reign of George 
II. about 1789 or 1740. 

" Toutes les productions d un meme genre ne forment proprement qu une masse, 
dont le prix se determine en general et sans egard aux circonstances particulieres." 
(Lt Trosne, 1. c. p. 898.) K. Marx, 1. c. p. 24. 

Commodities. 47 

The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, 
if the labour-time required for its production also remained 
constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the 
productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined 
by various circumstances, amongst others, by the average 
amount of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the 
degree of its practical application, the social organisation of 
production, the extent and capabilities of the means of pro 
duction, and by physical conditions. For example, the 
same amount of labour in favourable seasons is embodied 
in 8 bushels of corn, and in unfavourable, only in four. 
The same labour extracts from rich mines more metal than 
from poor mines. Diamonds are of very rare occurrence on 
the earth s surface, and hence their discovery costs, on an aver 
age, a great deal of labour-time. Consequently much labour 
is represented in a small compass. Jacob doubts whether gold 
has ever been paid for at its full value. This applies still 
more to diamonds. According to Eschwege, the total produce 
of the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending 
in 1823, had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years 
average produce of the sugar and coffee plantations of the 
same country, although the diamonds cost much more labour, 
and therefore represented more value. With richer mines, the 
same quantity of labour would embody itself in more diamonds 
and their value would fall. If we could succeed at a small 
expenditure of labour, in converting carbon into diamonds, 
their value might fall below that of bricks. In general, the 
greater the productiveness of labour, the less is the labour-time 
required for the production of an article, the less is the amount 
of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is its value ; 
and vise versa, the less the productiveness of labour, the greater 
is the labour-time required for the production of an article, 
and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, there 
fore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the 
productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it. 

A thing can be a use-value, without having value. This is 
the case whenever its utility to man is not due to labour. 
Such are air, virgin soil, natural meadows, &c. A thing can 

48 Capitalist Production. 

be useful, and the product of human labour, without being a 
commodity. Whoever directly satisfies his wants with the 
produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use-values, but not 
commodities. In order to produce the latter, he must not only 
produce use-values, but use-values for others, social use-values. 
Lastly, nothing can have value, without being an object of 
utility. If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in 
it; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates 
no value. 


At first sight a commodity presented itself to us as a complex 
of two things use-value and exchange-value. Later on, we 
saw also that labour, too, possesses the same two-fold nature; 
for, so far as it finds expression in value, it does not possess the 
same characteristics that belong to it as a creator of use-values. 
I was the first to point out and to examine critically this two 
fold nature of the labour contained in commodities. As this 
point is the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political 
economy turns, we must go more into detail. 

Let us take two commodities such as a coat and 10 yards of 
linen, and let the former be double the value of the latter, so 
that, if 10 yards of linen=W, the coatF=2W. 

The coat is a use-value that satisfies a particular want. Its 
existence is the result of a special sort of productive activity, 
the nature of which is determined by its aim, mode of opera 
tion, subject, means, and result. The labour, whose utility is 
thus represented by the value in use of its product, or which 
manifests itself by making its product a use-value, we call 
useful labour. In this connexion we consider only its useful 

As the coat and the linen are two qualitatively different use- 
values, so also are the two forms of labour that produce them, 
tailoring and weaving. Were these two objects not quali 
tatively different, not produced respectively by labour of 
different quality, they could not stand to each other in the 

Commodities. 49 

relation of commodities. Coats are not exchanged for coats, 
one use-value is not exchanged for another of the same kind. 

To all the different varieties of values in use there correspond 
as many different kinds of useful labour, classified according tc 
the order, genus, species, and variety to which they belong in 
the social division of labour. This division of labour is a neces 
sary condition for the production of commodities, but it does 
not follow conversely, that the production of commodities is a 
necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive 
Indian community there is social division of labour, without 
production of commodities. Or, to take an example nearer 
home, in every factory the labour is divided according to a 
system, but this division is not brought about by the operatives 
mutually exchanging their individual products. Only such 
products can become commodities with regard to each other, as 
result from different kinds of labour, each kind being carried 
on independently and for the account of private individuals. 

To resume, then : In the use-value of each commodity there 
is contained useful labour, i. e. f productive activity of a definite 
kind and exercised with a definite aim. Use-values cannot 
confront each other as commodities, unless the useful labour 
embodied in them is qualitatively different in each of them. 
In a community, the produce of which in general takes the 
form of commodities, i. e., in a community of commodity pro 
ducers, this qualitative difference between the useful forms of 
labour that are carried on independently by individual pro 
ducers, each on their own account, develops into a complex 
system, a social division of labour. 

Anyhow, whether the coat be worn by the tailor or by his 
customer, in either case it operates as a use-value. Kor is the 
relation between the coat and the labour that produced it 
altered by the circumstance that tailoring may have become a 
special trade, an independent branch of the social division of 
labour. Wherever the want of clothing forced them to it, the 
human race made clothes for thousands of years, without a 
single man becoming a tailor. But coats and linen, like every 
other element of material wealth that is not the spontaneous 
produce of nature, must invariably owe their existence to a 

cj O Capitalist Production. 

special productive activity, exercised with a definite aim, an 
activity that appropriates particular nature-given materials to 
particular human wants. So far therefore as labour is a 
creator of use-value, is useful labour, it is a necessary con 
dition, independent of all forms of society, for the existence of 
the human race; it is an eternal nature-imposed necessity, 
without which there can be no material exchanges between 
man and Nature, and therefore no life. 

The use-values, coat, linen, &c., i. e. f the bodies of commodi 
ties, are combinations of two elements matter and labour. 
If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a 
material substratum is always left, which is furnished by 
Nature without the help of man. The latter can work only as 
Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter. 1 Nay 
more, in this work of changing the form he is constantly helped 
by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the only 
source of material wealth, of use-values produced by labour. 
As William Petty puts it, labour is its father and the earth its 

Let us now pass from the commodity considered as a use* 
value to the value of commodities. 

By our assumption, the coat is worth twice as much as the 
linen. But this is a mere quantitative difference, which for the 
present does not concern us. We bear in mind, however, that 
if the value of the coat is double that of 10 yds. of linen, 20 
yds. of linen must have the same value as one coat. So far 
as they are values, the coat and the linen are things of a like 
substance, objective expressions of essentially identical labour. 
But tailoring and weaving are, qualitatively, different kinds of 
labour. There are, however, states of society in which one and 

1 Tutti i fenomeni dell universe, sieno essi prodotti della mano, dell uomo, ovvero 
delle universali leggi della fisica, non ci danno idea dl attuale creazione, ma 
unlcamente di una modificazione della materia. Accostare e separare sono gli unici 
elementi che 1 ingegno umano ritrova analizzando 1 idea della riproduzione: e Unto 4 
riproduzione di valore (value in use, although Verri in this passage of his contro 
versy with the Physiocrats is not himself quite certain of the kind of value he is 
speaking of) e di ricchezze se la terra 1 aria c 1 acqua ne campi si trasmutino in 
grano, come se colla mano dell* uomo il glutine di un insetto si trasmuti in velluto 
owero alcuni pezzetti di metallo si organizzino a formare una ripetizione." 
Pietro Verri. "Meditazioni sulla Economia Politica" [first printed in 1778] 
in Custodi s edition of the Italian Economists, Parte Moderna, t. xv. p. 82. 

Commodities. 51 

the same man does tailoring and weaving alternately, in which 
case these two forms of labour are mere modifications of the 
labour of the same individual, and not special and fixed func 
tions of different persons; just as the coat which our tailor 
makes one day, and the trousers which he makes another day, 
imply only a variation in the labour of one and the same indi 
vidual. Moreover, we see at a glance that, in our capitalist 
society, a given portion of human labour is, in accordance with 
the varying demand, at one time supplied in the form of tailor 
ing, at another in the form of weaving. This change may 
possibly not take place without friction, but take place it must. 
Productive activity, if we leave out of sight its special form, 
viz., the useful character of the labour, is nothing but the ex 
penditure of human labour-power. Tailoring and weaving, 
though qualitatively different pfbcfuctive activities, are each a 
productive expenditure of human brains, nerves, and muscles, 
and in this sense are human labour. They are but two 
different modes of expending human labour-power. Of course, 
this labour-power, which remains the same under all its modi 
fications, must have attained a certain pitch of development 
before it can be expended in a multiplicity of modes. But the 
value of a commodity represents human labour in the abstract, 
the expenditure of human labour in general. And just as in 
society, a general or a banker plays a great part, but mere 
man, on the other hand, a very shabby part, 1 so here with 
mere human labour. It is the expenditure of simple labour- 
power, i.e., of the labour-power which, on an average, apart 
from any special development, exists in the organism of every 
ordinary individual. Simple average labour, it is true, varies 
in character in different countries and at different times, but , 
in a particular society it is given. Skilled labour counts only 
as simple labour intensified, or ratherTTs" multiplied simple 
labour, a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a ^ 
greater quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this / 
reduction is constantly being made. A commodity may be the 
product of the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating 
it to the product of simple unskilled labour, represents a 

J Comp. Hegel, Philosophic des Rcchts. Berlin, 1840, p. 250 $ 190. 

52 Capitalist Production. 

definite quantity of the latter labour alone. 1 The different 
proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to 
unskilled labour as their standard, are established by a social 
process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, 
consequently, appear to be fixed by custom. For simplicity s 
sake we sfeall henceforth account every kind of labour to be 
unskilled, simple labour; by this we do no more than save 
ourselves the trouble of making the reduction. 

Just as, therefore, in viewing the coat and linen as values, 
we abstract from their different use-values, so it is with the 
labour represented by those values : we disregard the difference 
between its useful forms, weaving and tailoring. As the use- 
values, coat and linen, are combinations of special productive 
activities with cloth and yarn, while the values, coat and linen, 
are, on the other hand, mere homogeneous congelations of 
indifferentiated labour, so the labour embodied in these latter 
values does not count by virtue of its productive relation to 
cloth and yarn, but only as being expenditure of human 
labour-power. Tailoring and weaving are necessary factors in 
the creation of the use-values, coat and linen, precisely because 
these two kinds of labour are of different qualities; but only 
in so far as abstraction is made from their special qualities, 
only in so far as both possess the same quality of being human 
labour, do tailoring and weaving form the substance of the 
values of the same articles. 

Coats and linen, however, are not merely values, but values 
of definite magnitude, and according to our assumption, the 
coat is worth twice as much as the ten yards of linen. Whence 
this difference in their values? It is owing to the fact that 
the linen contains only half as much labour as the coat, 
and consequently, that in the production of the latter, labour- 
power must have been expended during twice the time neces 
sary for the production of the former. 

While, therefore, with reference to use-value, the labour con 
tained in a commodity counts only qualitatively, with refer- 

1 The reader must note that we are not speaking here of the wages or value 
that the labourer gets for a given labour time, but of the value of the com* 
modity in which that labour time is materialised. Wages is a category that, as 
jrt, has no existence at the present stage of our investigation. 

Commodities. 53 

ence to value it counts only quantitatively, and must first be 
reduced to human labour pure and simple. In the former 
case, it is a question of How and What, in the latter of How 
much ? How long a time ? Since the magnitude of the value of 
a commodity represents only the quantity of labour embodied 
in it, it follows that all commodities, when taken in certain 
proportions, must be equal in value. 

If the productive power of all the different sorts of useful 
labour required for the production of a coat remains unchanged, 
the sum of the values of the coat produced increases with 
their number. If one coat represents x days labour, two 
coats represent 2x days labour, and so on. But assume that 
the duration of the labour necessary for the production of a 
coat becomes doubled or halved. In the first case, one coat is 
worth as much as two coats were before ; in the second case, 
two coats are only worth as much as one was before, although 
in both cases one coat renders the same service as before, and 
the useful labour embodied in it remains of the same quality. 
But the quantity of labour spent on its production has altered. 

An increase in the quantity of use-values is an increase of 
material wealth. With two coats two men can be clothed, 
with one coat only one man. Nevertheless, an increased quan- 
tity of material wealth may correspond to a simultaneous j 
fall in the magnitude of its value. This antagonistic move- j 
ment has its origin in the two-fold character of labour. 
Productive powertHB-TefeTenee, of course, only to labour of 
some useful concrete form ; the efficacy of any special produc 
tive activity during a given time being dependent on its 
productiveness. Useful labour becomes, therefore, a more or 
less abundant source of products, in proportion to the rise or 
fall of its productiveness. On the other hand, no change in this 
productiveness affects the labour represented by value. Since 
productive power is an attribute of the concrete useful forms 
of labour, of course it can no longer have any bearing on that 
labour, so soon as we make abstraction from those concrete 
useful forms. However then productive power may vary, the 

same labour, exercised during equal periods of time, always 
yields equal amounts of value. But it will yield, during equal 

54 Capitalist Production. 

periods of time, different quantities of values in use ; more, if 
the productive power rise, fewer, if it fall. The same change 
in productive power, which increases the fruitfulness of labour, 
and, in consequence, the quantity of use-values produced by 
that labour, will diminish the total value of this increased 
quantity of use-values, provided such change shorten the total 
labour-time necessary for their production; and vice vers<i. 

On the one hand all labour is, speaking physiologically, an 
expenditure of human labour-power, and in its character of 
identical abstract human labour, it creates and forms the value 
of commodities. On the other hand, all labour is the expendi 
ture of human labour-power in a special form and with a 
definite aim, and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, 
it produces use-values. 1 


Commodities come into the world in the shape of use-values, 
articles, or goods, such as iron, linen, corn, &c. This is their 
plain, homely, bodily form. They are, however, commodities, 

1 In order to prove that labour alone is that all-sufficient and real measure, 
by which at all times the value of all commodities can be estimated and com 
pared, Adam Smith says, " Equal quantities of labour must at all times and in all 
places have the same value for the labourer. In his normal state of health, strength 
and activity, and with the average degree of skill that he may possess, he must 
always give up the same portion of his rest, his freedom, and his happiness." 
(Wealth of Nations, b. I. ch. v.) On the one hand, Adam Smith here (but not 
everywhere) confuses the determination of value by means of the quantity of 
labour expended in the production of commodities, with the determination of the 
values of commodities by means of the value of labour, and seeks in consequence 
to prove that equal quantities of labour have always the same value. On the 
other hand, he has a presentiment, that labour, so far as it manifests itself in 
the value of commodities, counts only as expenditure of labour power, but he 
treats this expenditure as the mere sacrifice of rest, freedom, and happiness, not as 
the same time the normal activity of living beings. But then, he has the mod 
ern wage-labourer in his eye. Much more aptly, the anonymous predecessor of 
Adam Smith, quoted above in Note *, p. 6, says, " one man has employed him 
self a week in providing this necessary of life . . . and he that gives him 
some other in exchange, cannot make a better estimate of what is a proper 
equivalent, than by computing what cost him just as much labour and time; 
which in effect is no more than exchanging one man s labour in one thing for 
a time certain, for another man s labour in another thing for the same time." 
(1. c. p. 39.) [The English language has the advantage of possessing different 
words for the two aspects of labour here considered. The labour which create* 
Use-Value, and counts qualitatively, is Work, as distinguished from Labour; thai 
which creates Value and counts quantitatively, is Labour as distingiushed from 
Work. ED.] 

Commodities. 55 

only because they are something twofold, both objects of utility, 
and, at the same time, depositories of value. They manifest 
themselves therefore as commodities, or have the form of com 
modities, only in so far as they have two forms, a physical 
or natural form, and a value form. 

The reality of the value of commodities differs in this respect 
from Dame Quickly, that we don t know "where to have it." 
The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse ma 
teriality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its 
composition. Turn and examine a single commodity, by itself, 
as we will. Yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it 
seems impossible to grasp it. If, however, we bear in mind 
that the value of commodities has a purely social reality, and 
that they acquire this reality only in so far as they are expres 
sions or embodiments of one identical social substance, viz., hu 
man labour, it follows as a matter of course, that value can only 
manifest itself in the social relation of commodity to com 
modity. In fact we started from exchange value, or the 
exchange relation of commodities, in order to get at the value 
that lies hidden behind it. We must now return to this form 
under which value first appeared to us. 

Every one knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities 
have a value form common to them all, and presenting a 
marked contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use- 
values. I mean their money form. Here, however, a task is 
set us, the performance of which has never yet even been at 
tempted by bourgeois economy, the task of tracing the genesis 
of this money form, of developing the expression of value im 
plied in the value relation of commodities, from its- simplest, 
almost imperceptible outline, to the dazzling money form. By 
doing this we shall, at the same time, solve the riddle presented 
by money. 

The simplest value relation is evidently that of one com 
modity to some one other commodity of a different kind. 
Hence the relation between the values of two commodities sup 
plies us with the simplest expression of the value of a single 

56 Capitalist Production. 

A. Elementary or Accidental Form of Value. 
x commodity A=y commodity B, or 
x commodity A is worth y commodity R 
20 yards of linen=l coat, or 
20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat. 

1. The two poles of the expression of value : Relative form and 
Equivalent form. 

The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in 
this elementary form. Its analysis, therefore, is our real 

Here two different kinds of commodities (in our example 
the linen and the coat), evidently play two different parts. 
The linen expresses its value in the coat ; the coat serves as the 
material in which that value is expressed. The former play*; 
an active, the latter a passive, part. The value of the linen is 
represented as relative value, or appears in relative form. 
The coat officiates as equivalent, or appears in equivalent 

The relative form and the equivalent form are two intimate 
ly connected, mutually dependent and inseparable elements of 
the expression of value; but, at the same time, are mutually 
exclusive, antagonistic extremes i.e., poles of the same ex 
pression. They are allotted respectively to the two different 
commodities brought into relation by that expression. It is 
not possible to express the value of linen in linen. 20 yards 
of linen=20 yards of linen is no expression of value. On the 
contrary, such an equation merely says that 20 yards of linen 
are nothing else than 20 yards of linen, a definite quantity of 
the use-value linen. The value of the linen can therefore be 
expressed only relatively i.e., in some other commodity. The 
relative form of the value of the linen pre-supposes, therefore, 
the presence of some other commodity here the coat under 
the form of an equivalent. On the other hand, the commodity 
that figures as the equivalent cannot at the same time assume 
the relative form. That second commodity is not the one 
whose value is expressed. Its function is merely to serve as 

Commodities. 57 

the material in which the value of the first commodity is ex 

No doubt, the expression 20 yards of linen=l coat, or 20 
yards of linen are worth 1 coat, implies the opposite relation : 1 
coatF=20 yards of linen, or 1 coat is worth 20 yards of linen. 
But, in that case, I must reverse the equation, in order to ex 
press the value of the coat relatively; and, so soon as I do 
that the linen becomes the equivalent instead of the coat. 
A single commodity cannot, therefore, simultaneously assume, 
in the same expression of value, both forms. The very 
polarity of these forms makes them mutually exclusive. 

Whether, then, a commodity assumes the relative form, or 
the opposite equivalent form, depends entirely upon its acci 
dental position in the expression of value that is, upon 
whether it is the commodity whose value is being expressed or 
the commodity in which value is being expressed. 

2. The Relative form of value. 
(a.) The nature and import of this form. 

In order to discover how the elementary expression of the 
value of a commodity lies hidden in the value relation of two 
commodities, we must, in the first place, consider the latter 
entirely apart from its quantitative aspect. The usual mode of 
procedure is generally the reverse, and in the value relation 
nothing is seen but the proportion between definite quantities 
of two different sorts of commodities that are considered equal 
to each other. It is apt to be forgotten that the magnitudes 
of different things can be compared quantitatively, only when 
those magnitudes are expressed in terms of the same unit. It 
is only as expressions of such a unit that they are of the same 
denomination, and therefore commensurable. 1 

Whether 20 yards of linen=l coat or=20 coats or x 

1 The few economists, amongst whom is S. Bailey, who have occupied themselves 
with the analysis of the form of value, have been unable to arrive at any result, 
first, because they confuse the form of value with value itself; and second, be 
cause, under the coarse influence of the practical bourgeois, they exclusively give 
their attention to the quantitative aspect of the question. "The command of quan- 
ity . . . constitute! value." ("Money and its Vicissitudes." London, 1837, p. 
11. By S. Bailey. 

58 Capitalist Production. 

coats that is, whether a given quantity of linen is worth few 
or many coats, every such statement implies that the linen and 
coats, as magnitudes of value, are expressions of the same unit, 
things of the same kind. Linen==coat is the basis of the 

But the two commodities whose identity of quality is thus 
assumed, do not play the same part. It is only the value of 
the linen that is expressed. And how ? By its reference to 
the coat as its equivalent, as something that can be exchanged 
for it In this relation the coat is the mode of existence of 
value, is value embodied, for only as such is it the same as the 
linen. On the other hand, the linen s own value comes to the 
front, receives independent expression, for it is only as being 
value that it is comparable with the coat as a thing of equal 
value, or exchangeable with the coat To borrow an illustra 
tion from chemistry, butyric acid is a different substance from 
propyl formate. Yet both are made up of the same chemical 
substances, carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (0), and 
that, too, in like proportions namely, C 4 H 8 O 2 . If now we 
equate butyric acid to propyl formate, then, in the first place, 
propyl formate would be, in this relation, merely a form oi 
existence of C 4 H 8 O 2 ; and in the second place, we should be 
stating that butyric acid also consists of C 4 H 8 O 2 . Therefore, 
by thus equating the two substances, expression would be given 
to their chemical composition, while their different physical 
forms would be neglected. 

If we say that, as values, commodities are mere congelations 
of human labour, we reduce them by our analysis, it is true, to 
the abstraction, value; but we ascribe to this value no form 
apart from their bodily form. It is otherwise in the value 
relation of one commodity to another. Here, the one stands 
forth in its character of value by reason of its relation to the 

By making the coat the equivalent of the linen, we equate 
the labour embodied in the former to that in the latter. Now, 
it is true that the tailoring, which makes the coat, is concrete 
labour of a different sort from the weaving which makes the 
linen. But the act of equating it to the weaving, reduces the 

Commodities. 59 

tailoring to that which is really equal in the two kinds of 
labour, to their common character of human labour. In this 
roundabout way, then, the fact is expressed, that weaving also, 
in so far as it weaves value, has nothing to distinguish it from 
tailoring, and, consequently, is abstract human labour. It is 
the expression of equivalence between different sorts of com 
modities that alone brings into relief the specific character of 
value-creating labour, and this it does by actually reducing 
the different varieties of labour embodied in the different 
kinds of commodities to their common quality of human labour 
in the abstract. 1 

There is, however, something else required beyond the ex 
pression of the specific character of the labour of which the 
value of the linen consists. Human labour-power in motion, 
or human labour, creates value, but is not itself value. It 
becomes value only in its congealed state, when embodied in 
the form of some object. In order to express the value of the 
linen as a congelation of human labour, that value must be 
expressed as having objective existence, as being a something 
materially different from the linen itself, and yet a something 
common to the linen and all other commodities. The problem 
is already solved. 

When occupying the position of equivalent in the equation 
of value, the coat ranks qualitatively as the equal of the linen, 
as something of the same kind, because it is value. In this posi 
tion it is a thing in which we see nothing but value, or whose 
palpable bodily form represents value. Yet the coat itself, the 
body of the commodity, coat, is a mere use-value. A coat as 
such no more tells us it is value, than does the first piece of 
linen we take hold of. This shows that when placed in value 

1 The celebrated Franklin, one of the first economists, after Wm. Petty, who 
saw through the nature of value, says : " Trade in general being nothing else but 
the exchange of labour for labour, the value of all things is ... most justly 
measured by labour." (The works of B. Franklin, 4c., edited by Sparks, 
Boston, 1836, Vol. II., p. 267.) Franklin is unconscious that by estimating the 
value of everything in labour, he makes abstraction from any difference in the 
sorts of labour exchanged, and thus reduces them all to equal human labour. 
But although ignorant of this, yet he says it. He speaks first of "the one labour," 
then of " the other labour," and finally of " labour," without further qualifica 
tion, as the substance of the value of everything. 

60 Capitalist Production. 

relation to the linen, the coat signifies more than when out of 
that relation, just as many a man strutting about in a gorgeous 
uniform counts for more than when in mufti. 

In the production of the coat, human labour-power, in the 
shape of tailoring, must have been actually expended. Human 
labour is therefore accumulated in it. In this aspect the coat 
is a depository of value, but though worn to a thread, it does 
not let this fact show through. And as equivalent of the linen 
in the value equation, it exists under this aspect alone, counts 
therefore as embodied value, as a body that is value. A, for 
instance, cannot be "your majesty" to B, unless at the same 
time majesty in B s eyes assumes the bodily form of A, and, 
what is more, with every new father of the people, changes its 
features, hair, and many other things besides. 

Hence, in the value equation, in which the coat is the equiva 
lent of the linen, the coat officiates as the form of value. The 
value of the commodity linen is expressed by the bodily form of 
the commodity coat, the value of one by the use-value of the 
other. As a use-value, the linen is something palpably dif 
ferent from the coat ; as value, it is the same as the coat, and 
now has the appearance of a coat. Thus the linen acquires 
a value form different from its physical form. The fact that 
it is value, is made manifest by its equality with the coat, just 
as the sheep s nature of a Christian is shown in his resemblance 
to the Lamb of God. 

We see, then, all that our analysis of the value of commo 
dities has already told us, is told us by the linen itself, so soon 
as it comes into communication with another commodity, the 
coat. Only it betrays its thoughts in that language with 
which alone it is familiar, the language of commodities. In 
order to tell us that its own value is created by labour in its 
abstract character of human labour, it says that the coat, in so 
far as it is worth as much as the linen, and therefore is value, 
consists of the same labour as the linen. In order to inform 
us that its sublime reality as value is not the same as its buck 
ram body, it says that value has the appearance of a coat, and 
consequently that so far as the linen is value, it and the coat 
are as like as two peas. We may here remark, that the Ian- 

Commodities. . ^oAr 61 

guage of commodities has, besides Hebrew, many other more or 
less correct dialects. The German "werthsein," to be worth, 
for instance, expresses in a less striking manner than the 
Komance verbs "valere," "valer," "valoir," that the equating of 
commodity B to commodity A, is commodity A s own mode of 
expressing its value. Paris vaut bien une messe. 

By means, therefore, of the value relation expressed in our 
equation, the bodily form of commodity B becomes the value 
form of commodity A, or the body of commodity B acts as a 
mirror to the value of commodity A. 1 By putting itself in re 
lation with commodity B, as value in propria persona, as the 
matter of which human labour is made up, the commodity A 
converts the value in use, B, into the substance in which to 
express its, A s, own value. The value of A, thus expressed in 
the use-value of B, has taken the form of relative value. 

(b.) Quantitative determination of Relative value. 

Every commodity, whose value it is intended to express, is a 
useful object of given quantity, as 15 bushels of corn, or 100 
Ibs. of coffee. And a given quantity of any commodity con 
tains a definite quantity of human labor. The value-form 
must therefore not only express value generally, but also value 
in definite quantity. Therefore, in the value relation of com 
modity A to commodity B, of the linen to the coat, not only is 
the latter, as value in general, made the equal in quality of the 
linen, but a definite quantity of coat (1 coat) is made the 
equivalent of a definite quantity (20 yards) of linen. 

The equation, 20 yards of linen=l coat, or 20 yards of linen 
are worth one coat, implies that the same quantity of value- 
substance (congealed labour) is embodied in both; that the 
two commodities have each cost the same amount of labour or 
the same quantity of labour time. But the labour time 
necessary for the production of 20 yards of linen or 1 coat 

1 In a sort of way, it is with man as with commodities. Since he comes into 
the world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtian philosopher, 
to whom "I am I " is sufficient, man first sees and recognises himself in other 
men. Peter only establishes his own identity as a man by first comparing him- 
4f with Paul M being of like kind. And thereby Paul, just as he stands in hi 
Patjliue personality, become* to Peter the type of th genus homo. 

62 Capitalist Production. 

varies with every change in the productiveness of weaving or 
tailoring. We have now to consider the influence of such 
changes on the quantitative aspect of the relative expression of 

I. Let the value of the linen vary, 1 that of the coat remain 
ing constant. If, say in consequence of the exhaustion of flax- 
growing soil, the labour time necessary for the production of 
the linen be doubled, the value of the linen will also be doubled. 
Instead of the equation, 20 yards of linen=l coat, we should 
have 20 yards of linen=2 coats, since 1 coat would now con 
tain only half the labour time embodied in 20 yards of liners. 
If, on the other hand, in consequence, say, of improved loon, 
this labour time be reduced by one half, the value of the line:a 
would fall by one half. Consequently, we should have 20 
yards of linen= coat. The relative value of commodity A., 
i.e., its value expressed in commodity B, rises and falls directly 
as the value of A, the value of B being supposed constant. 

II. Let the value of the linen remain constant, while the 
value of the coat varies. If, under these circumstances, in 
consequence, for instance, of a poor crop of wool, the labou * 
time necessary for the production of a coat becomes doubled, 
we have instead of 20 yards of linen =1 coat, 20 yards of linen 
=| coat If, on the other hand, the value of the coat sinkn 
by one half, then 20 yards of linen=2 coats. Hence, if thn 
value of commodity A remain constant, its relative value ex 
pressed in commodity B rises and falls inversely as the value 
of B. 

If we compare the different cases in I. and II., we see tha 1 ; 
the same change of magnitude in relative value may arise fron 
totally opposite causes. Thus, the equation, 20 yards of liner 
=1 coat, becomes 20 yards of linen=2 coats, either, because 
the value of the linen has doubled, or because the value of the; 
coat has fallen by one half ; and it becomes 20 yards of liner 
=-J coat, either, because the value of the linen has fallen by 
one half, or because the value of the coat has doubled. 

III. Let the quantities of labour time respectively neces- 

1 Value is here, as occasionally in the preceding pages, used in the sense CM 
value determined as to quantity, or of magnitude of value. 

Commodities. 63 

sary for the production of the linen and the coat vary sim 
ultaneously in the same direction and in the same proportion. 
In this case 20 yards of linen continue equal to 1 coat, however 
much their values may have altered. Their change of value is 
seen as soon as they are compared with a third commodity, 
whose value has remained constant If the values of all com 
modities rose or fell simultaneously, and in the same propor 
tion, their relative values would remain unaltered. Their real 
change of value would appear from the diminished or increased 
quantity of commodities produced in a given time. 

IV. The labour time respectively necessary for the produc 
tion of the linen and the coat, and therefore the value of these 
commodities may simultaneously vary in the same direction, 
but at unequal rates, or in opposite directions, or in other 
ways. The effect of all these possible different variations, on 
the relative value of a commodity, may be deduced from the 
results of I., II., and III. 

Thus real changes in the magnitude of value are neither 
unequivocally nor exhaustively reflected in their relative 
expression, that is, in the equation expressing the magnitude 
of relative value. The relative value of a commodity may 
vary, although its value remains constant. Its relative value 
may remain constant, although its value varies; and finally, 
simultaneous variations in the magnitude of value and in that 
of its relative expression by no means necessarily correspond 
in amount. 1 

1 Thi* incongruity between the magnitude of value and its relative expression 
has, with customary ingenuity, been exploited by vulgar economists. For example 
"Once admit that A falls, because B, with which it is exchanged, rises, while 
no less labour is bestowed in the meantime or A, and your general principle of 
value falls to the ground. . . . If he [Ricardo] allowed that when A rises in 
value relatively to B, B falls in value relatively to A, he cut away the ground on 
which he rested his grand proposition, that the value of a commodity is ever de 
termined by the labour embodied in it; for if a change in the cost of A alters not 
only its own value in relation to B, for which it is exchanged, but also the value 
of B relatively to that of A, though no change has taken place in the quantity 
of labour to produce B, then not only the doctrine falls to the ground whiclr- 

asserts that the quantity of labour bestowed on an article regulates its value, 
but also that which affirms the cost of an article to regulate its value." (J. 
Broadhurst: Political Economy, London, 1849, p. 11 and 14. 

Mr. Broadhurst might just as well say: consider .the fractions $, $, ^J^, Sue., 
the number 10 remains unchanged, and yet its proportional magnitude, its magni- 

64 Capitalist Production. 

3. The Equivalent form of value. 

We have seen that commodity A (the linen), by expressing 
its value in the use-value of a commodity differing in kind 
(the coat), at the same time impresses upon the latter a specific 
form of value, namely that of the equivalent The commodity 
linen manifests its quality of having a value by the fact that 
the coat, without having assumed a value form different from 
its bodily form, is equated to the linen. The fact that tho 
latter therefore has a value is expressed by saying that tho 
coat is directly exchangeable with it Therefore, when we say 
that a commodity is in the equivalent form, we express tho 
fact that it is directly exchangeable with other commodities. 

When one commodity, such as a coat, serves as the equivalent 
of another, such as linen, and coats consequently acquire tho 
characteristic property of being directly exchangeable with 
linen, we are far from knowing in what proportion the two am 
exchangeable. The value of the linen being given in magni 
tude, that proportion depends on the value of the coat. 
Whether the coat serves as the equivalent and the linen a? 
relative value, or the linen as the equivalent and the coat a.i 
relative value, the magnitude of the coat s value is determined, 
independently of its value form, by the labour time necessary 
for its production. But whenever the coat assumes in thn 
equation of value, the position of equivalent, its value acquirer 
no quantitative expression ; on the contrary, the commodity 
coat now figures only as a definite quantity of some article. 

For instance, 40 yards of linen are worth what? 2 coats. 
Because the commodity coat here plays the part of equivalent, 
because the use-value coat, as opposed to the linen, figures as 
an embodiment of value, therefore a definite number of coatu 
suffices to express the definite quantity of value in the linen. 
Two coats may therefore express the quantity of value of 40 
yards of linen, but they can never express the quantity of their 
own value. A superficial observation of this fact, namely, tha - 

tude relatively to the numbers 20, 50, 100, &c., continually diminishes. There 
fore the great principle that the magnitude of a whole number, such as 10, i 
"regulated" by the number of times unity is contained in it, falls to the ground 
[The author explains in section 4 of this chapter, p. 99, note 1, wht he under 
stands by " Vulgar Economy." Ed.J 

Commodities. 65 

in the equation of value, the equivalent figures exclusively as 
a simple quantity of some article, of some use-value, has misled 
Bailey, as also many others, both before and after him, into 
seeing, in the expression of value, merely a quantitative rela 
tion. The truth being, that when a commodity acts as equiva 
lent, no quantitative determination of its value is expressed. 

The first peculiarity that strikes us, in considering the form 
of the equivalent, is this : use-value becomes the form of mani 
festation, the phenomenal form of its opposite, value. 

The bodily form of the commodity becomes its value form. 
But, mark well, that this quid pro quo exists in the case of any 
commodity B, only when some other commodity A enters into 
a value relation with it, and then only within the limits of this 
relation. Since no commodity can stand in the relation of 
equivalent to itself, and thus turn its own bodily shape into the 
expression of its own value, every commodity is compelled 
to choose some other commodity for its equivalent, and to ac 
cept the use-value, that is to say, the bodily shape of that other 
commodity as the form of its own value. 

One of the measures that we apply to commodities as ma 
terial substances, as use-values, will serve to illustrate this point. 
A sugar-loaf being a body, is heavy, and therefore has weight : 
but we can neither see nor touch this weight. We then take 
various pieces of iron, whose weight has been determined 
beforehand. The iron, as iron, is no more the form of manifes 
tation of weight, than is the sugar-loaf. Nevertheless, in order 
to express the sugar-loaf as so much weight, we put it into a 
weight-relation with the iron. In this relation, the iron 
officiates as a body representing nothing but weight. A certain 
quantity of iron therefore serves as the measure of the weight 
of the sugar, and represents, in relation to the sugar-loaf, 
weight embodied, the form of manifestation of weight. This 
part is played by the iron only within this relation, into which 
the sugar or any other body, whose weight has to be determined, 
enters with the iron. Were they not both heavy, they could 
not enter into this relation, and the one could therefore not 
serve as the expression of the weight of the other. When we 

throw both into the scales, we see in reality, that as weight 


66 Capitalist Production. 

they are both the same, and that, therefore, when taken in 
proper proportions, they have the same weight. Just as the 
substance iron, as a measure of weight, represents in relation 
to the sugar-loaf weight alone, so, in our expression of value, 
the material object, coat, in relation to the linen, represents 
value alone. 

Here, however, the analogy ceases. The iron, in the expres 
sion of the weight of the sugar-loaf, represents a natural pro 
perty common to both bodies, namely their weight; but the coal, 
in the expression of value of the linen, represents a non-natural 
property of both, something purely social, namely, their value. 

Since the relative form of value of a commodity the linen, 
for example expresses the value of that commodity, as being- 
something wholly different from its substance and properties, 
as being, for instance, coat-like, we see that this expression 
itself indicates that some social relation lies at the bottom of 
it. With the equivalent form it is just the contrary. The verj 
essence of this form is that the material commodity itself the 
coat just as it is, expresses value, and is endowed with the 
form of value by Nature itself. Of course this holds good onlj 
so long as the value relation exists, in which the coat stands in 
the position of equivalent to the linen. 1 Since, however, the 
properties of a thing are not the result of its relations to other 
things, but only manifest themselves in such relations, the 
coat seems to be endowed with its equivalent form, its property 
of being directly exchangeable, just as much by Nature as it is 
endowed with the property of being heavy, or the capacity to 
keep us warm. Hence the enigmatical character of the equiva 
lent form which escapes the notice of the bourgeois political 
economist, until this form, completely developed, confronts him 
in the shape of money. He then seeks to explain away the 
mystical character of gold and silver, by substituting for them 
less dazzling commodities, and by reciting, with ever renewed 
satisfaction, the catalogue of all possible commodities which at 
one time or another have played the part of equivalent He 

1 Such expressions of relations in genertl, called by Hegel reflex-categories, form 
ft very curious class. For instance, one man is king only because other men stand 
ix the relation of subject* to him. They, oa the contrary, imagine that they are 
abject* beoate h. ia kia 

Commodities. 67 

has not the least suspicion that the most simple expression of 
value, such as 20 yds. of linen =1 coat, already propounds the 
riddle of the equivalent form for our solution. 

The body of the commodity that serves as the equivalent, 
figures as the materialism of human labour in the abstract 
and is at the same time the product of some specifically useful 
concrete labour. This concrete labour becomes, therefore, the 
medium for expressing abstract human labour. If on the 
one hand the coat ranks as nothing but the embodiment of 
abstract human labour, so, on the other hand, the tailoring 
which is actually embodied in it, counts as nothing but the 
form under which that abstract labour is realised. In the ex 
pression of value of the linen, the utility of the tailoring con 
sists, not in making clothes, but in making an object, which we 
at once recognise to be Value, and therefore to be a congelation 
of labour, but of labour indistinguishable from that realised in 
the value of the linen. In order to act as such a mirror of 
value, the labour of tailoring must reflect nothing besides its 
own abstract quality of being human labour generally. 

In tailoring, as well as in weaving, human labour-power is 
expended. Both, therefore, possess the general property of 
being human labour, and may, therefore, in certain cases, such 
as in the production of value, have to be considered under 
this aspect alone. There is nothing mysterious in this. But 
in the expression of value there is a complete turn of the 
tables. For instance, how is the fact to be expressed that 
weaving creates the value of the linen, not by virtue of being 
weaving, as such, but by reason of its general property of being 
human labour ? Simply by opposing to weaving that other 
particular form of concrete labour (in this instance tailoring), 
which produces the equivalent of the product of weaving. 
Just as the coat in its bodily form became a direct expression 
of value, so now does tailoring, a concrete form of labour, 
appear as the direct and palpable embodiment of human labour 

Hence, the second peculiarity of the equivalent form is, that 
concrete labour becomes the form under which its opposite, 
abstract human labour, manifests itself. 

68 Capitalist Production. 

But because this concrete labour, tailoring in our case, ranks 
as, and is directly indentified with, undifferentiated human 
labour, it also ranks as identical with any other sort of labor, 
and therefore with that embodied in linen. Consequently, 
although, like all other commodity-producing labour, it is the 
labour of private individuals, yet, at the same time, it ranks as 
labour directly social in its character. This is the reason why 
it results in a product directly exchangeable with other com 
modities. We have then a third peculiarity of the Equivalent 
form, namely, that the labour of private individuals takes the 
form of its opposite, labour directly social in its form. 

The two latter peculiarities of the Equivalent form will 
become more intelligible if we go back to the great thinker 
who was the first to analyse so many forms, whether of 
thought, society, or nature, and amongst them also the form of 
value. I mean Aristotle. 

In the first place, he clearly enunciates that the money form 
of commodities is only the further development of the simple 
form of value i. e., of the expression of the value of one com 
modity in some other commodity taken at random ; for he says 

5 beds=l house (K\LVOI TTCVTI avrl OIKMXS) is not to \Q 

distinguished from 
5 beds so much money. 

(K\LVOJL irevrt. avrl . . . oaov at irwrt *Awu) 

He further sees that the value relation which gives rise to 
this expression makes it necessary that the house should quali 
tatively be made the equal of the bed, and that, without such 
an equalization, these two clearly different things could not 
be compared with each other as commensurable quantities 
"Exchange," he says, "cannot take place without equality, and 
equality not without commensurability" ( ovr la-orrj^ py ovcn^s 
crv/A/xcrpuxs ) . Here, however, he comes to a stop, and gives 
up the further analysis of the form of value. "It is, 
however, in reality, impossible (fg ptv ovv aX-rjOtia abwarov^ thst 
such unlike things can be commensurable" i. e., qualita 
tively equal. Such an equalisation can only be something 
foreign to their real nature, consequently only "a make-shift; 
for practical purposes." 

Commodities. 69 

Aristotle therefore, himself, tells us, what barred the way to 
his further analysis ; it was the absence of any concept of 
value. What is that equal something, that common substance, 
which admits of the value of the beds being expressed by a 
house ? Such a thing, in truth, cannot exist, says Aristotle. 
And why not ? Compared with the beds, the house does re 
present something equal to them, in so far as it represents what 
is really equal, both in the beds and the house. And that is 
human labour. 

There was, however, an important fact which prevented 
Aristotle from seeing that, to attribute value to commodities, is 
merely a mode of expressing all labour as equal human labour, 
and consequently as labour of equal quality. Greek society 
was founded upon slavery, and had, therefore, for its natural 
basis, the inequality of men and of their labour powers. The 
secret of the expression of value, namely, that all kinds of 
labour are equal and equivalent, because, and so far as they 
are human labour in general, cannot be deciphered, until the 
notion of human equality has already acquired the fixity of a 
popular prejudice. This, however, is possible only in a society 
,in which the great mass of the produce of labour takes the form 
of commodities, in which, consequently, the dominant relation 
between man and man, is that of owners of commodities. The 
brilliancy of Aristotle s genius is shown by this alone, that he 
discovered, in the expression of the value of commodities, a 
relation of equality. The peculiar conditions of the society in 
which he lived, alone prevented him from discovering what, 
"in truth," was at the bottom of this equality. 

4:. The Elementary form of value considered as a 

The elementary form of value of a commodity is contained 
in the equation, expressing its value relation to another com 
modity of a different kind, or in its exchange relation to the 
same. The value of commodity A is qualitatively expressed 
by the fact that commodity B is directly exchangeable with it. 
Its value is quantitively expressed by the fact, that a definite 
quantity of B is exchangeable with a definite quantity of A. 
In other words, the value of a commodity obtains independent 

70 Capitalist Production. 

and definite expression, by taking the form of exchange value. 
When, at the beginning of this chapter, we said, in common 
parlance, that a commodity is both a use-value and an ex 
change value, we were, accurately speaking, wrong. A com 
modity is a use-value or object of utility, and a value. It 
manifests itself as this two-fold thing, that it is, as soon as its 
value assumes an independent form viz., the form exchange 
value. It never assumes this form when isolated, but only 
when placed in a value or exchange relation with another 
commodity of a different kind. When once we know this, 
such a mode of expression does no harm ; it simply serves as an 

Our analysis has shown, that the form or expression of the 
value of a commodity originates in the nature of value, and 
not that value and its magnitude originate in the mode of 
their expression as exchange value. This, however, is the 
delusion as well of the mercantilists and their recent revivois, 
Ferrier, Ganilh, 1 and others, as also of their antipodes, the 
modern bagmen of Free Trade, such as Bastiat The mercan 
tilists lay special stress on the qualitative aspect of the 
expression of value, and consequently on the equivalent for n 
of commodities, which attains its full perfection in money. 
The modern hawkers of Free Trade, who must get rid of their 
article at any price, on the other hand, lay most stress on tLe 
quantitative aspect of the relative form of value. For them 
there consequently exists neither value, nor magnitude of 
value, anywhere except in its expression by means of tie 
exchange relation of commodities, that is, in the daily list of 
prices current. MacLeod, who has taken upon himself 1x> 
dress up the confused ideas of Lombard Street in the racxit 
learned finery, is a successful cross between the superstitious 
mercantilists, and the enlightened Free Trade bagmen. 

A close scrutiny of the expression of the value of A in terms 
of B, contained in the equation expressing the value relation of 
A to B, has shown us that, within that relation, the bodily form 

1 F. L, Ferrier, sous-inspecteur des douanes, "Du gouverneraent considere 
dan ses rapports avc le commerce," Paris, 1805; and Charles Ganilh, " D-s- 
Sjrstemes d Economie politique," 2nd ed., Paris, 1821. 

Commodities. 71 

of A figures only as a use-value, the bodily form of B only as 
the form or aspect of value. The opposition or contrast 
existing internally in each commodity between use-value and 
value, is, therefore, made evident externally by two com 
modities being placed in such relation to each other, that the 
commodity whose value it is sought to express, figures directly 
as a mere use-value, while the commodity in which that value 
is to be expressed, figures directly as mere exchange value. 
Hence the elementary form of value of a commodity is the 
elementary form in which the contrast contained in that 
commodity, between use-value and value, becomes apparent. 

Every product of labour is, in all states of society, a use- 
value ; but it is only at a definite historical epoch in a society s 
development that such product becomes a commodity, viz., 
at the epoch when the labour spent on the production of a 
useful article becomes expressed as one of the objective 
qualities of that article, i.e., as its value. It therefore follows 
that the elementary value-form is also the primitive form 
under which a product of labour appears historically as a 
commodity, and that the gradual transformation of such 
products into commodities, proceeds part passu with the 
development of the value-form. 

We perceive, at first sight, the deficiencies of the elementary 
form of value : it is a mere germ, which must undergo a series 
of metamorphoses before it can ripen into the Price-form. 

The expression of the value of commodity A in terms of any 
other commodity B, merely distinguishes the value from the 
use-value of A, and therefore places A merely in a relation of 
exchange with a single different commodity, B; but it is still 
far from expressing A s qualitative equality, and quantitative 
proportionality, to all commodities. To the elementary rela 
tive value-form of a commodity, there corresponds the single 
equivalent form of one other commodity. Thus, in the rela 
tive expression of value of the linen, the coat assumes the form 
of equivalent, or of being directly exchangeable, only in re 
lation to a single commodity, the linen. 

Nevertheless, the elementary form of value passes by an easy 
transition into a more complete form. It is true that by means 

72 Capitalist Production. 

of the elementary form, the value of a commodity A, becomes 
expressed in terms of one, and only one, other commodity. 
But that one may be a commodity of any kind, coat, iron, corn, 
or anything else. Therefore, according as A is placed in rela 
tion with one or the other, we get for one and the same com 
modity, different elementary expressions of value. 1 The num 
ber of such possible expressions is limited only by the number 
of the different kinds of commodities distinct from it. The 
isolated expression of A s value, is therefore convertible into a 
series, prolonged to any length, of the different elementary ex 
pressions of that value. 

B. Total or Expanded form of value. 

z Com. A=u Com. B or=v Com. C or w Com. D or=x Com. 

E or &c. 

(20 yards of linen^l coat or=10 Ib tea or = 40 lb coffee or= 
1 quarter corn or=2 ounces gold oT=y 2 ton iron or=&c.) 

1. The Expanded Eelative form of value. 

The value of a single commodity, the linen, for example, is 
now expressed in terms of numberless other elements of the 
world of commodities. Every other commodity now becomes 
a mirror of the linen s value. 2 It is thus, that for the first time 

1 In Homer, for instance, the value of an article is expressed in a series of dif 
ferent things. II. VII., 472-475. 

* For this reason, we can speak of the coat-value of the linen when its value is 
expressed in coats, or of its corn-value when expressed in corn, and so on. 
Every such expression tells us, that what appears in the use-values, coat, corn, 
&c., is the value of the linen. " The value of any commodity denoting its relation 
in exchange, we may speak of it as ... corn-value, cloth-value, according to the 
commodity with which it is compared; and hence there are a thousand different kinds of 
value, as many kinds of value as there are commodities in existence, and all are 
equally real and equally nominal." (A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Meas 
ure and Causes of Value; chiefly in reference to the writings of Mr. Ricardo 
and his followers. By the author of " Essays on the Formation, &c., of Opin 
ions." London, 1825, p. 39.) S. Bailey, the author of this anonymous work, 
a work which in its day created much stir in England, fancied that, by thus 
pointing out the various relative expressions of one and the same value, he \^. 
proved the impossibility of any determination of the concept of value. How 
ever narrow his own views may have been, yet, that he laid his finger on some 
serious defects in the Ricardian Theory, is proved by the animosity with which 
he was attacked by Ricardo s followers. See the Westminster Review for example. 

Commodities. 73 

this value shows itself in its true light as a congelation of un- 
differentiated human labour. For the labour -that creates it, 
now stands expressly revealed, as labour that ranks equally 
with every other sort of human labour, no matter what its 
form, whether tailoring, ploughing, mining, &c. and no matter, 
therefore, whether it is realised in coats, corn, iron, or gold. 
The linen, by virtue of the form of its value, now stands in a 
social relation, no longer with only one other kind of com 
modity, but with the whole world of commodities. As a 
commodity, it is a citizen of that world. At the same time, 
the interminable series of value equations implies, that as re 
gards the value of a commodity, it is a matter of in 
difference under what particular form, or kind, of use-value it 

In the first form, 20 yds. of linen =1 coat, it might for ought 
that otherwise appears be pure accident, that these two com 
modities are exchangeable in definite quantities. In the second 
form, on the contrary, we perceive at once the background that 
determines, and is essentially different from, this accidental 
appearance. The value of the linen remains unaltered in mag 
nitude, whether expressed in coats, coffee, or iron, or in num 
berless different commodities, the property of as many 
different owners. The accidental relation between two in 
dividual commodity-owners disappears. It becomes plain, that 
it is not the exchange of commodities which regulates the 
magnitude of their value; but, on the contrary, that it is the 
magnitude of their value which controls their exchange 

2. The particular Equivalent form. 

Each commodity, such as coat, tea, corn, iron, &c., figures in 
the expression of value of the linen, as an equivalent, and con 
sequently as a thing that is value. The bodily form of each 
of these commodities figures now as a particular equivalent 
form, one out of many. In the same way the manifold concrete 
form, raia nyit of many, In the same way 

crete useful kinds of labour, embodied in these different com- 

74 Capitalist Production. 

modities, rank now as so many different forms of the realisa 
tion, or manifestation, of undifferentiated human labour. 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded form of value. 

In the first place, the relative expression of value is incom 
plete because lie series representing it is interminable. The 
chain of which each equation of value is a link, is liable at any 
moment to be lengthened by each new kind of commodity that 
comes into existence and furnishes the material for a fresh 
expression of value. In the second place, it is a many- 
coloured mosaic of disparate and independent expressions 
of value. And lastly, if, as must be the case, the relative value 
of each commodity in turn, becomes expressed in this ex 
panded form, we get for each of them a relative value-form, 
different in every case, and consisting of an interminable 
series of expressions of value. The defects of the expanded 
relative-value form are reflected in the corresponding equiva 
lent form. Since the bodily form of each single commodity is 
one particular equivalent form amongst numberless others, we 
have, on the whole, nothing but fragmentary equivalent forms, 
each excluding the others. In the same way, also, the special, 
concrete, useful kind of labour embodied in each particular 
equivalent, is presented only as a particular kind of labour, 
and therefore not as an exhaustive representative of human 
labour generally. The latter, indeed, gains adequate manifes 
tation in the totality of its manifold, particular, concrete forms. 
But, in that case, its expression in an infinite series is ever 
incomplete and deficient in unity. 

The expanded relative value form is, however, nothing but 
the sum of the elementary relative expressions or equations of 
the first kind, such as 

20 yards of linen=l coat 

20 yards of linen=10 Ibs. of tea, etc. 

Each of these implies the corresponding inverted equation, 

1 coat=20 yards of linen 
10 Ibs. of tea=20 yards of linen, etc. 

In fact, when a person exchanges his linen for many other 
commodities, and thus expresses its value in a series of other 

Commodities. 75 

commodities, it necessarily follows, that the various owners of 
the latter exchange them for the linen, and consequently express 
the value of their various commodities in one and the same 
third commodity, the linen. If then, we reverse the series, 20 
yards of linen=i coat or=10 Ibs. of tea, etc., that is to say, 
if we give expression to the converse relation already implied 
in the series, we get, 

C. The General form of value. 
1 coat 

10 Ibs. of tea 
40 Ibs. of coffee 
1 quarter of corn 

=20 yards of linen 

2 ounces of gold 
\ a ton of iron 
x com. A., etc. 

1. The altered character of the form of value. 

All commodities now express their value (1) in an element 
ary form, because in a single commodity; (2) with unity, be 
cause in one and the same commodity. This form of value 
is elementary and the same for all, therefore general. 

The forms A and B were fit only to express the value of a 
commodity as something distinct from its use-value or material 

The first form, A, furnishes such equations as the follow 
ing: 1 coat=20 yards of linen, 10 Ibs. of tea= ton of iron. 
The value of the coat is equated to linen, that of the tea to 
iron. But to be equated to linen, and again to iron, is to be as 
different as are linen and iron. This form, it is plain, occurs 
practically only in the first beginning, when the products of 
labour are converted into commodities by accidental and 
occasional exchanges. 

The second form, B, distinguishes, in a more adequate man 
ner than the first, the value of a commodity from its use-value ; 
for the value of the coat is there placed in contrast under all 
possible shapes with the bodily form of the coat ; it is equated 

76 Capitalist Production. 

to linen, to iron, to tea, in short, to everything else, only not to 
itself, the coat. On the other hand, any general expression of 
value common to all is directly excluded ; for, in the equation 
of value of each commodity, all other commodities now appear 
only under the form of equivalents. The expanded form of 
value comes into actual existence for the first time so soon as 
a particular product of labour, such as cattle, is no longer 
exceptionally, but habitually, exchanged for various other 

The third and lastly developed form expresses the values of 
the whole world of commodities in terms of a single commodity 
set apart for the purpose, namely, the linen, and thus represents 
to us their values by means of their equality with linen. The 
value of every commodity is now, by being equated to linen, 
not only differentiated from its own use-value, but from all 
other use-values generally, and is, by that very fact, expressed 
as that which is common to all commodities. By this form, 
commodities are, for the first time, effectively brought into 
relation with one another as values, or made to appear *s 
exchange values. 

The two earlier forms either express the value of each com 
modity in terms of a single commodity of a different kind, or 
in a series of many such commodities. In both cases, it is, SD 
to say, the special business of each single commodity to find a:i 
expression for its value, and this it does without the help of 
the others. These others, with respect to the former, play th3 
passive parts of equivalents. The general form of value C, 
results from the joint action of the whole world of commodities, 
and from that alone. A commodity can acquire a general ex 
pression of its value only by all other commodities, simulta 
neously with it, expressing their values in the same equivalent ; 
and every new commodity must follow suit. It thus becomes 
evident that, since the existence of commodities as values is 
purely social, this social existence can be expressed by the. 
totality of their social relations alone, and consequently 
that the form of their value must be a socially recognised 

All commodities being equated to linen now appear not only 

Commodities. 77 

as qualitatively equal as values generally, but also as values 
whose magnitudes are capable of comparison. By expressing 
the magnitudes of their values in one and the same material, 
the linen, those magnitudes are also compared with each other. 
For instance, 10 Ibs. of tea =20 yards of linen, and 40 Ibs. of 
coffee 20 yards of linen. Therefore, 10 Ibs. of tea =40 Ibs. 
of coffee. In other words, there is contained in 1 Ib. of coffee 
only one-fourth as much substance of value labour as is con 
tained in 1 Ib. of tea. 

The general form of relative value, embracing the whole 
world of commodities, converts the single commodity that is 
excluded from the rest, and made to play the part of equivalent 
here the linen into the universal equivalent. The bodily 
form of the linen is now the form assumed in common by the 
value of all commodities ; it therefore becomes directly 
exchangeable with all and every of them. The substance 
linen becomes the visible incarnation, the social chrysalis state 
of every kind of human labour. Weaving, which is the labour 
of certain private individuals producing a particular article, 
linen, acquires in consequence a social character, the character 
of equality with all other kinds of labour. The innumerable 
equations of which the general form of value is composed, 
equate in turn the labour embodied in the linen to that em 
bodied in every other commodity, and they thus convert 
weaving into the general form of manifestation of undiffer- 
entiated human labour. In this manner the labour realised in 
the values of commodities is presented not only under its 
negative aspect, under which abstraction is made from every 
concrete form and useful property of actual work, but 
its own positive nature is made to reveal itself expressly. 
The general value-form is the reduction of all kinds of 
actual labour to their common character of being human 
labour generally, of being the expenditure of human labour 

The general value form, which represents all products of 
labour as mere congelations of undifferentiated human labour, 
shows by its very structure that it is the social resume of the 
world of commodities. That form consequently makes it 

78 Capitalist Production. 

indisputably evident that in the world of 
character possessed ly all labour of being 

- - . T ..- : :-:.-. . v."-: 

2. JTi* interdependent development of ike Relative form of 
value, and of ike Equivalent form. 

The degree of development of the relatirc form of r^loe 
corresponds to that of the equivalent form. But we must bear 
in mind that the development of the latter is only the expres 
sion and result of the development of the former. 

Tbe primary or isolated relative form of value of one 
commodity converts some other commodity into an isolated 
equivalent The expended form of relative value, which is 
the expression of the value of one commodity in terms of all 
other commodities, endows those other commodities with the 
character of particular equivalents differing in kind. And 
lastly, a part icula r kind of commodity acquires the character of 
universal equivalent, because all other commodities make it the 
material in which they uniformly M|MM their value. 

Hie antagonism LeUiuen the relative form of value and thtf 
equivalent form, the two poles of the value form, is developed 
concurrently with that form itself. 

: m : _ yds :: ..--:I=:L-? : i:. :".:-;- .; 

this antagonism, without as yet fixing it According as we 
read this equation forwards or backwards, the parts played by 
the linen and the coat are different In the one case the 

relative value of the linen is expressed in the coat, in the 
other case the relative value of the coat is expressed in the 
linen. In this first form of value, therefore, it is difficult to 
grasp the polar contrast 

Form B shows that only one single commodity at a time can 
completely expand its relative value, and that it acquires this 
expanded form only because, and in so far as, all other com 
modities are, with respect to it, equivalents. Here we cannot 
reverse the equation, as we can the equation 20 yds, of linen= 
1 coat, without altering its general character, end converting 
it from the expanded form of value into the general font of 

: r. 

- ::- 

i . - ~ 

- - 


: ., : 


; -r - 



Capitalist Production. 

other hand, if a commodity be found to have assumed the 
universal equivalent form (form C), this is only because and 
in so far as it has been excluded from the rest of all other 
commodities as their equivalent, and that by their own act. 
And from the moment that this exclusion becomes finally 
restricted to one particular commodity, from that moment only, 
the general form of relative value of the world of commodities 
obtains real consistence and general social validity. 

The particular commodity, with whose bodily form the 
equivalent form is thus socially identified, now becomes the 
money commodity, or serves as money. It becomes the special 
social function of that commodity, and consequently its social 
monopoly, to play within the world of commodities the part of 
the universal equivalent. Amongst the commodities which, in 
form B, figure as particular equivalents of the linen, and in 
form C, express in common their relative values in linen, this 
foremost place has been attained by one in particular namely, 
gold. If, then, in form C we replace the linen by gold, we 

D. The Money form. 

20 yards of linen = 
1 coat = 

10 ft of tea 

40 lb of coffee ~ 

1 qr. of corn = 

J a ton of iron = 

x commodity A = 

In passing from form A to form B, and from the latter to 

form C, the changes are fundamental. On the other hand, 

there is no difference between forms C and D, except that, in 

the latter, gold has assumed the equivalent form in the place 

of linen. Gold is in form D, what linen was in form C the 

universal equivalent. The progress consists in this alone, that 

the character of direct and universal exchangeability in other 

words, that the universal equivalent form has now, by social 

custom, become finally identified with the substance, gold. 

2 ouncee of gold. 

Commodities. 81 

Gold is now money with reference to all other commodities 
only because it was previously, with reference to them, a 
simple commodity. Like all other commodities, it was also 
capable of serving as an equivalent, either as simple equivalent 
in isolated exchanges, or as particular equivalent by the side 
of others. Gradually it began to serve, within varying limits, 
as universal equivalent. So soon as it monopolises this posi 
tion in the expression of value for the world of commodities, 
it becomes the money commodity, and then, and not till then, 
does form D become distinct from form C, and the general 
form of value become changed into the money form. 

The elementary expression of the relative value of a single 
commodity, such as linen, in terms of the commodity, such as 
gold, that plays the part of money, is the price form of that 
commodity. The price form of the linen is therefore 
20 yards of linen=2 ounces of gold, or, if 2 ounces of gold 
when coined are 2, 20 yards of linen=2. 

The difficulty in forming a concept of the money form, con 
sists in clearly comprehending the universal equivalent form, 
and as a necessary corollary, the general form of value, form C. 
The latter is deducible from form B, the expanded form of 
value, the essential component element of which, we saw, is 
form A, 20 yards of linen 1 coat or x commodity A y com 
modity B. The simple commodity form is therefore the germ 
of the money form. 


A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and 
easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a 
very qiieer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and 
theological niceties. So far as it is a value in use, there js.., 
nothing mysterious about it, whether we consider it from the 
point of view that by its properties it is capable of satisfying 
human wants, or from the point that those properties are the 
product of human labour. It is as clear as noon-day, that man, 
by his industry, changes the forms of the materials furnished 

by nature, in such a way as to make them useful to him. The 


82 Capitalist Production. 

form of wood, for instance, is altered, by making a table out 
ofjt. Yet, for all that the table continues to be that common, 
every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it steps forth as a 
commodity, it is changed into something transcendent: It not 
only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all 
other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its 
wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than "table- 
turning" ever was. 

The mystical character of commodities does not originate, 
therefore, in their use-value. Just as little does it proceed 
from the nature of the determining factors of value. For, in 
the first place, however varied the useful kinds of labour, or 
productive activities, may be, it is a physiological fact, that 
they are functions of the human organism, and that each su<;h 
function, whatever may be its nature or form, is essentially the 
expenditure of human brain, nerves, muscles, &c. Secondly, 
with regard to that which forms the ground-work for the quan 
titative determination of value, namely, the duration of th:it 
expenditure, or the quantity of labour, it is quite clear that 
there is a palpable difference between its quantity and quality. 
In all states of society, the labour-time that it costs to produc e 
the means of subsistence must necessarily be an object of inter 
est to mankind, though not of equal interest in different stages 
of development. 1 And lastly, from the moment that men io. 
any way work for one another, their labour assumes a social 

Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product 
of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities ? 
Clearly from this form itself. The equality of all sorts of 
human labour is expressed objectively by their products all 
being equally values ; the measure of the expenditure of labour- 
power by the duration of that expenditure, takes the form o: 
the quantity of value of the products of labour; and finally, 
the mutual relations of the producers, within which the social 

1 Among the ancient Germans the unit for measuring land was what could b 
harvested in a day, and was called Tagwerk, Tagwanne (jurnale, or terra jurnalis, 
or diornalis), Mannsraaad, &c. (See G. L. von Maurer Einleitung zur Ge*chichte 
der Mark, &c. Verfanung, MOnchen, 1859, p. 189-59.) 

Commodities. 83 

character of their labour affirms itself, take the form of a 
social relation between the products. 

A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because 
in it the social character of men s labour appears to them as an 
objective character stamped upon the product of that labour; 
because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their 
own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing 
not between themselves, but between the products of their j 
labour. This is the reason why the products of labour become / 
commodities, social things, whose qualities are at the same time 
perceptible and imperceptible by the senses. In the same way 
the light from an object is perceived by us not as the subjective 
excitation of our optic nerve, but as the objective form of 
something outside the eye itself. But, in the act of seeing, 
there is at all events, an actual passage of light from one thing 
to another, from the external object to the eye. There is a 
physical relation between physical things. But it is different 
with commodities. There, the existence of the things qua 
commodities, and the value relation between the products of 
labour which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no 
connection with their physical properties and with the material 
relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite social rela 
tion between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic 
form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find 
an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped re 
gions of the religious world. In that world the productions of 
the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with 
life, and entering into relation both with one another and the 
human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the 
products of men s hands. This I call the Fetishism which at 
taches itself to the products of labour, so soon as they are pro 
duced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from 
the production of commodities. 

This Fetishism of commodities has its origin, as the fore 
going analysis has already shown, in the peculiar social 
character of the labour that produces them. 

As a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, 
only because they are products of the labour of private individ- 

Capitalist Production. 

uals or groups of individuals who carry on their work inde 
pendently of each other. The sum total of the labour of all 
these private individuals forms the aggregate labour of society. 
Since the producers do not come into social contact with each 
/ other until they exchange their products, the specific social 
I character of each producer s labour does not show itself except 
l^in the act of exchange. In other words, the labour of the in 
dividual asserts itself as a part of the labour of society, only 
by means of the relations which the act of exchange establishes 
directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, 
between the producers. To the latter, therefore, the relations 
connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest ap 
pear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, 
but as what they really are, material relations between persons 
and social relations between things. It is only by being ex 
changed that the products of labour acquire, as values, one uni 
form social status, distinct from their varied forms of existence 
fas objects of utility. This division of a product into a useful 
thing and a value becomes practically important, only when ex 
change has acquired such an extension that useful articles are 
produced for the purpose of being exchanged, and their char 
acter as values has therefore to be taken into account, before 
hand, during production. From this moment the labour of the 
individual producer acquires socially a two-fold character. 
On the one hand, it must, as a definite useful kind of labour, 
satisfy a definite social want, and thus hold its place as part 
and parcel of the collective labour of all, as a branch of a social 
division of labour that has sprung up spontaneously. On the 
other hand, it can satisfy the manifold wants of the individual 
producer himself, only in so far as the mutual exchangeability 
of all kinds of useful private labour is an established social 
fact, and therefore the private useful labour of each producer 
ranks on an equality with that of all others. The equalization 
of the most different kinds of labour can be the result only of 
an abstraction from their inequalities, or of reducing them to 
their common denominator, viz., expenditure of human labour 
power or human labour in the abstract. The two-fold social 
character of the labour of the individual appears to him, whep 

Commodities. 85 

reflected in his brain, only under those forms which are im 
pressed upon that labour in everyday practice by the exchange 
of products. In this way, the character that his own labour 
possesses of being socially useful takes the form of the condi 
tion, that the product must be not only useful, but useful for 
others, and the social character that his particular labour has of 
being the equal of all other particular kinds of labour, takes the 
form that all the physically different articles that are the pro 
ducts of labour, have one common quality, viz, that of having 

Hence, when we bring the products of our labour into rela 
tion with each other as values, it is not because we see in these 
articles the material receptacles of homogeneous human labour. 
Quite the contrary ; whenever, by an exchange^ jwe ; jefjuate as 
values our different proTTucfs, by that very act, we also equate, 
astiuman labour, the different kinds of labour expended upon 
them. AVe are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it, 1 
Value, therefore, does not stalk about with a label describing 
what it is. It is jvalue, rather, that convertsjBvery_product 
into a social hieroglyphic^ Later on, we try to decipher the 
hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of our own social pro 
ducts; : c or to stamp an object of utility as a value, is just as 
much a social product as language. The recent scientific dis 
covery, that the products of labour, so far as they are values, 
are but material expressions of the human labour spent in 
their production, marks, indeed, an epoch in the history of the 
development of the human race, but, by no means^ dissipates 
the mist through which the social character of labour appears 
to us to be an objective character of the products themselves. 
The fact, that in the particular form of production with which 
we are dealing, viz., the production of commodities, the specific 
social character of private labour carried on independently, 
consists in the equality of every kind of that labour, by virtue 
of its being human labour, which character, therefore, assumes 

1 When, therefore, Galiani says: Value is a relation between persons "La 
Ricchezza e una ragione tra due persone," he ought to have added: a relation be 
tween persons expressed as a relation between things. (Galiani: Delia Moneta, p. 
221, V. III. of Custodi s collection of "Scrittori Classici Italian! di Economia 
Politicia." Parte Moderna, Milano, 1803.) 

86 Capitalist Production. 

in the product the form of value this fact appears to the 
producers, notwithstanding the discovery above referred to, 
to be just as real and final, as the fact, that, after the discovery 
by science of the component gases of air, the atmosphere itself 
remained unaltered. 

What, first of all, practically concerns producers when they 
make an exchange, is the question, how much of some other 
product tkey get for their own ? in what proportions the pro 
ducts are exchangeable ? When these proportions have, by 
custom, attained a certain stability, they appear to result from 
the nature of the products, so that, for instance, one ton of iron 
and two ounces of gold appear as naturally to be of equal value 
as a pound of gold and a pound of iron in spite of their 
different physical and chemical qualities appear to be of equal 
weight. The character of having value, when once impressed 
upon products, obtains fixity only by reason of their acting and 
ire-acting upon each other as quantities of value. These 
quantities vary continually, independently of the will, fore 
sight and action of the producers. To them, their own social 
action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the 
producers instead of being ruled by them. It requires a fully 
developed production of commodities before, from accumulated 
experience alone, the scientific conviction springs up, that all 
the different kinds of private labour, which arc carried on in 
dependently of each other, and yet as spontaneously developed 
branches of the social division of labour, are continually being 
reduced to the quantitive proportions in which society re 
quires them. And why? Because, in the midst of all the 
accidental and ever fluctuating exchange-relations between 
the products, the labour-time socially necessary for their pro 
duction forcibly asserts itself like an over-riding law of nature. 
The law of gravity thus asserts itself when a house falls about 
/6ur ears. 1 The determination of the magnitude of value by 
labour-time is therefore a secret, hidden under the apparent 

1 " What are we to think of a law that asserts itself only by periodical revolu 
tions? It is just nothing but a law of Nature, founded on the want of knowledge of 
those whose action is the subject of it." (Friedrich Engels: Umrisse xu einer 
Kritik der Nationa lokonomie," in the "Deutsch-franzdsische Jahrbucher," edited by 
Arnold Ruge and Karl Marx. Paris, 1844. 

Commodities. 87 

fluctuations in the relative values of commodities. Its dis 
covery, while removing all appearance of mere tcddentality 
from the determination of the magnitude of die values of 
products, jet in no way alien die mode in which that 
determination takes place. 

tm* th* forma nf neial 

also, his yi?t*fo analysis of those forms, tike a course directi y 
opposite to that of their actual historical development He 
begins, poet faefr"", with the results of die process of develop 
ment ready to hand before him. The characters that stamp 
products as commodities,and whose establishment is a IJUIBSIIJ 
preliminary to the circulation of commodities, hare already 
acquired the stability of natural, self -understood forms of social 
life, before man seeks to decipher, not their historical character, 
for in his eyee they are immutable, but their meaning. Con 
sequently it was the analysis of the prices of commodities 
that alone led to die determination of die magnitude of value, 
and it was the common expression of all commodities in money 
that alone led to the establishment of their characters as values. 
however, just this nlimate money form of the world of 
commodities that actually conceals, imd^i of disclosing, die 
social character of private labour, and the social relations 
-lieipeou the individual producers. When I state that coats or_ 
hoots stand in a relation to linen, heeanse it is the universal 
incarnation of abstract human labour, die absurdity of the 
^d:cz:ei- - ; _ -- ...-- - _ -. . - ; . : - : 

coats and boots compare those articles with linen, or, what is 
Jir 5i~e :i:ir ~::i c:".i :: =:>f:. :s : :.i :i.-.:iil ~. _ i .fz:. 
they express die relation betPiieu their own private labour and 
the collective labour of society in die same absurd form. 

The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like 
forms. They are forms of thought expressing with social 
~- :.:...:.:- _ :...:. :..- :: .. !:-i:..v 

:: yr:iu::::i. -;- . : :.- jr:i_;:::z :: 

modities. The wfible myslery of commodhieB, aD the magic 

and necromancy that surrounds die products of labour aa long 
as they take die form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so 
soon aa we come to other forms of 

88 Capitalist Production. 

Since Robinson Crusoe s experiences are a favorite theme 
with political economists, 1 let us take a look at him on his 
island. Moderate though he be, yet some few wants he has to 
satisfy, and must therefore do a little useful work of various 
sorts, such as making tools and furniture, taming goats, fish 
ing and hunting. Of his prayers and the like we take no ac 
count, since they are a source of pleasure to him, and he looks 
upon them as so much recreation. In spite of the variety of 
his work, he knows that his labour, whatever its form, is but 
the activity of one and the same Robinson, and consequently, 
that it consists of nothing but different modes of human 
labour. Necessity itself compels him to apportion his tiire 
accurately betw r een his different kinds of work. Whether one 
kind occupies a greater space in his general activity than an 
other, depends on the difficulties, greater or less as the case 
may be, to be overcome in attaining the useful effect aimel 
at. This our friend Robinson soon learns by experience, and 
having rescued a watch, ledger, and pen and ink from tha 
wreck, commences, like a true-born Briton, to keep a set of 
books. His stock-book contains a list of the objects of utility 
that belong to him, of the operations necessary for their pro 
duction ; and lastly, of the labour time that definite quantities 
of those objects have, on an average, cost him. All the rela 
tions between Robinson arid the objects that form this wealth 
of his own creation, are here so simple and clear as to be in 
telligible without exertion, even to Mr. Sedley Taylor. Anc 
yet those relations contain all that is essential to the deter 
mination of value. 

. Let us now transport ourselves from Robinson s island 
"bathed in light to the European middle ages shrouded in dark 
ness. Here, instead of the independent man, we find every- 

1 Even Ricardo has his stories a la Robinson. "He makes the primitive hunter 
and the primitive fisher straightway, as owners of commodities, exchange fish and 
game in the proportion in which labour-time is incorporated in these exchange 
values. On this occasion he commits the anachronism of making these men apply to 
the calculation, so far as their implements have to be taken into account, the 
annuity tables in current use on the London Exchange in the year 1847. The par 
allelograms of Mr. Owen appear to be the only form of society, besides the bour 
geois form, with which he was acquainted." (Karl Marx: "Critique," &c., 
p. 0-70.) 

Commodities. 89 

one dependent, serfs and lords, vassals and suzerains, lay 
men and clergy. Personal dependence here characterises the 
social relations of production just as much as it does the other 
spheres of life organized on the basis of that production. But 
for the very reason that personal dependence forms the ground 
work of society, there is no necessity for labour and its prod 
ucts to assume a fantastic form different from their reality. 
They take the shape, in the transactions of society, of services 
in kind and payments in kind. Here the particular and natu 
ral form of labour, and not, as in a society based on production 
of commodities, its general abstract form is the immediate 
social form of labour. Compulsory labour is just as properly 
measured by time, as commodity-producing labour ; but every 
serf knows that what he expends in the service of his lord, is 
a definite quantity of his own personal labour-power. The 
tithe to be rendered to the priest is more matter of fact than 
his blessing. No matter, then, what we may think of the 
parts played by the different classes of people themselves in 
this society, the social relations between individuals in the 
performance of their labour, appear at all events as their 
own mutual personal relations, and are not disguised under 
the shape of social relations between the products of labour. 

For an example of labour in common or directly associated 
labour, we have no occasion to go back to that spontaneously 
developed form which we find on the threshold of the history 
of all civilized races. 1 We have one close at hand in the 
patriarchal industries of a peasant family, that produces corn, 
cattle, yarn, linen, and clothing for home use. These differ-, 
ent articles are, as regards the family, so many products of its 
labour, but as between themselves, they are not commodities. 
The different kinds of labour, such as tillage, cattle tending, 

1 "A ridiculous presumption has latterly got abroad that common property in 
its primitive form is specifically a Slavonian, or even exclusively Russian 
form. It is the primitive form that we can prove to have existed amongst 
Romans, Teutons, and Celts, and even to this day we find numerous examples, 
ruins though they be, in India. A more exhaustive study of Asiatic, and 
especially of Indian forms of common property, would show how from the different 
forms of primitive common property, different forms of its dissolution have been 
developed. Thus, for instance, the various original types of Roman and Teutonic 
private property are deducible from different forms of Indian common property," 
(Karl Marx. "Critique," &c., p. 29, footnote.) 

90 Capitalist Production. 

spinning, weaving and making clothes, which result in the 
various products, are in themselves, and such as they are, 
direct social functions, because functions of the family, which 
just as much as a society based on the production of commod 
ities, possesses a spontaneously developed system of division 
of labour. The distribution of the work within the family, 
and the regulation of the labour-time of the several members, 
depend as well upon differences of age and sex as upon nat 
ural conditions varying with the seasons. The labour-power 
of each individual, by its very nature, operates in this case 
merely as a definite portion of the whole labour-power of the 
family, and therefore, the measure of the expenditure of ir 
dividual labour-power by its duration, appears here by its 
very nature as a social character of their labour. 

Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a com 
munity of free individuals, carrying on their work with tha 
means of production in common, in which the labour-power of 
all the different individuals is consciously applied as tho 
combined labour-power of the community. All the charac 
teristics of Robinson s labour are here repeated, but with this 
difference, that they are social, instead of individual. Every 
thing produced by him was exclusively the result, of his OWE 
personal labour, and therefore simply an object of use foi 
himself. The total product of our community is a social 
product One portion serves as fresh means of production 
and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the 
members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this 
portion amongst them is consequently necessary. The mode 
of this distribution will vary with the productive organization 
of the community, and the degree of historical development 
attained by the producers. We will assume, but merely for 
the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities, that 
the share of each individual producer in the means of subsis 
tence is determined by his labour-time. Labour-time would, 
in that case, play a double part. Its apportionment in accord 
ance with a definite social plan maintains the proper propor 
tion between the different kinds of work to be done and the 
various wants of the community. On the other hand, it also 

Commodities. 91 

genres as a measure of the portion of the common labour borne 
by each individual and of his share in the part of the total 
product destined for individual consumption. The social re 
lations of the individual producers, with regard both to their 
labour and to its products, are in this case perfectly simple 
and intelligible, and that with regard not only to production 
but also to distribution. 

The religious world is but the reflex of the real world. And 
for a society based upon the production of commodities, in 
which the producers in general enter into social relations with 
one another by treating their products as commodities and 
values, whereby they reduce their individual private labour 
the standard of homogeneous human labour for such a soci 
ety, Christianity with its cultus of abstract man, more espec 
ially in its bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, &c., 
is the most fitting form of religion. In the ancient Asiatic 
and other ancient modes of production, we find that the con 
version of products into commodities, and therefore the con 
version of men into producers of commodities, holds a subor 
dinate place, which, however, increases in importance as the 
primitive communities approach nearer and nearer to their 
dissolution. Trading nations, properly so called, exist in the 
ancient world only in its interstices, like the gods of Epicurus 
in the Intermundia, or like Jews in the pores of Polish soci 
ety. Those ancient social organisms of production are, aa 
compared with bourgeois society, extremely simple and trans 
parent But they are founded either on the immature devel 
opment of man individually, who has not yet severed the um 
bilical cord that unites him with his fellow men in a primi 
tive tribal community, or upon direct relations of subjec 
tion. They can arise and exist only when the development of 
the productive power of labour has not risen beyond a low 
stage, and when, therefore, the social relations within the 
sphere of material life, between man and man, and between 
man and Nature, are correspondingly narrow. This narrow 
ness is reflected in the ancient worship of Nature, and in the 
other elements of the popular religions. The religious reflex 
of the real world can, in any case, only then finally vanish, 

92 Capitalist Production. 

when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man none 
but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with re 
gard to his fellowmen and to nature. 

The life-process of society, which is based on the process of 
material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it 
is treated as production by freely associated men, and is con 
sciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan. 
This, however, demands for society a certain material ground 
work or set of conditions of existence which in their turn are 
the spontaneous product of a long and painful process of 

Political economy has indeed analysed, however incom 
pletely, 1 value and its magnitude, and has discovered what 
lies beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the 
question why labour is represented by the value of its product 

1 The insufficiency of Ricardo s analysis of the magnitude of value, and his an 
alysis is by far the best, will appear from the 3rd and 4th book of this work. As 
regards values in general, it is the weak point of the classical school of political 
economy that it nowhere, expressly and with full consciousness, distinguishes be 
tween labour, as it appears in the value of a product and the same labour, as it ap 
pears in the use-value of that product. Of course the distinction is practically made 
since this school treats labour, at one time under its quantitative aspect, at another 
under its qualitative aspect. But it has not the least idea, that when the 
difference between various kinds of labour is treated as purely quantitative, 
their qualitative unity or equality, and therefore their reduction to abstract human 
labour, is implied. For instance, Ricardo declares that he agrees with Destutt 
de Tracy in this proposition: "As it is certain that our physical and moral 
faculties are alone our original riches, the employment of those faculties, labour 
of some kind, is our only original treasure, and it is always from this employment 
that all those things are created, which we call riches. . . . It is certain, too, 
that all those things only represent the labour which has created them, and if they 
have a value, or even two distinct values, they can only derive them from that 
(the value) of the labour from which they emanate." (Ricardo, The Principles 
of Pol. Econ. 3 Ed. Lond. 1821, p. 334.) We would here only point out that 
Ricardo puts his own more profound interpretation upon the words of Destutt. 
What the latter really says is, that on the one hand all things which constitute 
wealth represent the labour that creates them, but that on the other hand, they 
acquire their "two different values" (use-value and exchange-value) from "the 
value of labour." He thus falls into the commonplace error of the vulgar econo 
mists, who assume the value of one commodity (in this case labour) in order to deter 
mine the values of the rest. But Ricardo reads him as if he had said, that labour 
(not the value of labour) is embodied both in use-value and exchange-value. 
Nevertheless, Ricardo himself pays so little attention to the two-fold character 
of the labour which has a two-fold embodiment, that he devotes the whole of his 
chapter on " Value and Riches, Their Distinctive Properties," to a laborious ex 
amination of the trivialities of a J. B. Say. And at the finish he is quite 
astonished to find that Destutt on the one hand agrees with him as to labour being 
the source of value, and on the other hand with J. B. Say as to the notion of 

Commodities. 93 

and labour time by the magnitude of that value. 1 These for-^ 
muke, which bear stamped upon them in unmistakeable let 
ters, that they belong to a state of society, in which the process 
of production has the mastery over man, instead of being con 
trolled by him, such formulae appear to the bourgeois intellect 
to be as much a self-evident necessity imposed by nature as 
productive labour itself. Hence forms of social production 
that preceded the bourgeois form, are treated by the bour 
geoisie in m ut- -the same way as the Fathers of the Church 
treated pre-Christian religions. 2 

1 It is one of tUe o/iicf failings of classical economy that it has never succeeded, 
by means of ira <n**fvsis of commodities, and, in particular, of their value, in dis 
covering that foru under which value becomes exchange-value. Even Adam 
Smith and Ricardo, the best representatives of the school, treat the form of value 
as a thing of no importance, as having no connection with the inherent nature 
of commodities. The reason for this is not solely because their attention is en 
tirely absorbed in the analysis of the magnitude of value. It lies deeper. The 
value form of the product of labour is not only the most abstract, but is also the 
most universal form, taken by the product in bourgeois production, and stamps 
that production as a particular species of social production, and thereby gives 
it its special historical character. If then we treat this mode of production as one 
eternally fixed by nature for every state of society, we necessarily overlook that 
which is the differentia specifica of the value-form, and consequently of the 
commodity-form, and of its further developments, money-form, capital-form, &c. 
We consequently find that economists, who are thoroughly agreed as to labour time 
being the measure of the magnitude of value, have the most strange and con 
tradictory ideas of money, the perfected form of the general equivalent. This 
is seen in a striking manner when they treat of banking, where the common 
place definitions of money will no longer hold water. This led to the rise of 
a restored mercantile system (Ganilh, &c.), which sees in value nothing but a 
social form, or rather the unsubstantial ghost of that form. Once for all I may 
here state, that by classical political economy, I understand that economy which, 
since the time of W. Petty, has investigated the real relations of production in 
bourgeois society, in contradistinction to vulgar economy, which deals with appear 
ances only, ruminates without ceasing on the materials long since provided by 
scientific economy, and there seeks plausible explanations of the most obtrusive 
phenomena, for bourgeois daily use, but for the rest, confines itself to systema 
tizing in a pedantic way, and proclaiming for everlasting truths, the trite ideas 
held by the self-complacent bourgeoisie with regard to their own world, to them 
the best of all possible worlds. 

2 "The economists have a singular manner of proceeding. There are for them 
only two kinds of institutions, those of art and those of nature. Feudal institu 
tions are artificial institutions, those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions. 
In this they resemble the theologians, who also establish two kinds of religion 
Every religion but their own is an invention of men, while their own religion is 
an emanation from God. . . . Thus there has been history, but there is no 
longer any." Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, A Reply to La Philosophic 
de la Misere by Mr. Proudhon. 1847, p. 100. Truly comical is M. Bastiat, who 
imagines that the ancient Greeks and Romans lived by plunder alone. But when 
people plunder for centuries, there must always be something at hand for them to 
seize; the objects of plunder must be continually reproduced. It would thus appear 

94 Capitalist Production. 

To what extent some economists are misled by the Fetishism 
inherent in commodities, or by the objective appearance of 
; the social characteristics of labour, is shown, amongst other 
ways, by the dull and tedious quarrel over the part played by 
Mature in the formation of exchange value. Since exchange 
value is a definite social manner of expressing the amount of 
labour bestowed upon an object, Nature has no more to do 
with it, than it has in fixing the course of exchange. 

The mode of production in which the product takes the 
form of a commodity, or is produced directly for exchange, is 
the most general and most embryonic form of bourgeois pro 
duction. It therefore makes its appearance at an early date 
in history, though not in the same predominating and charac 
teristic manner as now-a-days. Hence its Fetish character is 
comparatively easy to be seen through. But when we come 
to more concrete forms, even this appearance of simplicity 
vanishes. Whence arose the illusions of the monetary sys 
tem ? To it gold and silver, when serving as money, did not 
represent a social relation between producers, but were nat- 

tbat even Greeks and Romans had some process of production, consequently, an 
economy, which just as much constituted the material basis of their world, as bour- 
geois economy constitutes that of our modern world. Or perhaps Bastiat means, 
that a mode of production based on slavery is based on a system of plunder. In 
that case he treads on dangerous ground. If a giant thinker like Aristotle erred in 
his appreciation of slave labour, why should a dwarf economist like Bastiat be right 
{n his appreciation of wage labour? I seize this opportunity of shortly answering 
an objection taken by a German paper in America, to my work, "Critique of 
Political Economy, 1859." In the estimation of that paper, my view that each 
special mode of production and the social relations corresponding to it, in short, 
that the economic structure of society, is the real basis on which the juridical 
and political superstructure is raised, and to which definite social forms of 
thought correspond; that the mode of production determines the character of the 
social, political, and intellectual life generally, all this is very true for our own 
times, in which material interests preponderate, but not for the middle ages, in 
which Catholicism, nor for Athens and Rome, where politics, reigned supreme, 
In the first place it strikes one as an odd thing for any one to suppose that these 
well-worn phrases about the middle ages and the ancient world are unknown to 
anyone else. This much, however, is clear, that the middle ages could not live 
on Catholicism, nor the ancient world on politics. On the contrary, it is the 
mode in which they gained a livelihood that explains why here politics, and 
there Catholicism, played the chief part. For the rest, it requires but a slight 
acquaintance with the history of the Roman republic, for example, to be 
aware that its secret history is the history of its landed property. On the other 
hand, DOB Quixote long ago paid the penalty for wrongly imagining that knight 
erramtry was compatible with aU economical forms of society. 

Commodities. 95 

ural objects with strange social properties. And modern 
economy, which looks down with such disdain on the monetary 
system, does not its superstition come out as clear as noon-day, 
whenever it treats of capital ? How long is it since economy || 
discarded the physiocratic illusion, that rents grow out of the I 
soil and not out of society ? 

But not to anticipate, we will content ourselves with yet 
another example relating to the commodity form. Could com 
modities themselves speak, they would say : Our use-value may 
be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. 
What, however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our 
natural intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of 
each other we are nothing but exchange values. Now listen 
how those commodities speak through the mouth of the econo 
mist "Value" (i.e., exchange value) "is a property of things, 
riches" (i.e., use-value) "of man. Value, in this sense, neces 
sarily implies exchanges, richea do not." * "Riches" (use- 
value) "are the attribute of men, value is the attribute of com 
modities. A man or a community is rich, a pearl or a dia 
mond is valuable. . . A pearl or a diamond is valuable" as a 
pearl or diamond. 2 So far no chemist has ever discovered ex 
change value either in a pearl or a diamond. The economical 
discoverers of this chemical element, who by-the-by0 lay special 
claim to critical acumen, find however that the use-value of 
objects belongs to them independently of their material pro 
perties, while their value, on the other hand, forms a part of 
them as objects. What confirms them in this view, is the 
peculiar circumstances that the use-value of objects is realised 
without exchange, by means of a direct relation between the 

1 Observations on certain verbal disputes in Pol. Econ., particularly relating to 
value and to demand and supply. Lond., 1821, p. 16. 

S. Bailey, 1. c-, p. 166. 

The author of " Observations " and S, Bailey accuse Ricardo of converting ex 
change value from something relative into something absolute. The opposite is the 
fact. He has explained the apparent relation between objects, such as diamonds 
and pearls, in which relation they appear as exchange values, and disclosed the 
trut relation bidden behind the appearances, namely, their relation to each other 
as mere expressions of human labour. If the followers of Ricardo answer Bailey 
somewkat rudely, and by no means convincingly, the reason is to be sought in 
this, that they were unable to find in Ricardo s own works any key to the hidden 
relations awistiag between value amd it* form, exchange v*lu. 

g6 Capitalist Production. 

objects and man, while, on the other hand, their value is real 
ised only by exchange, that is, by means of a social process. 
Who fails here to call to mind our good friend, Dogberry, who 
informs neighbour Seacoal, that, "To be a well-favoured man 
is the gift of fortune; but reading and writing comes by 




IT is plain that commodities cannot go to market and make 
exchanges of their own account. We must, therefore, have 
recourse to their guardians, who are also their owners. Com 
modities are things, and therefore without power of resistance 
against man. If they are wanting in docility he can use force ; 
in other words, he can take possession of them. 1 In order thst 
these objects may enter into relation with -each other as com 
modities, their guardians must place themselves in relatio i 
to one another, as persons whose will resides in those object , 
and must behave in such a way that each does not appropriata 
the commodity of the other, and part with his own, except bv 
means of an act done by mutual consent. They must, there 
fore, mutually recognise in each other the right of private 
proprietors. This juridical relation, which thus expresses it 
self in a contract, whether such contract be part of a developed 
legal system or not, is a relation between two wills, and is but 
the reflex of the real economical relation between the two. It 
is this economical relation that determines the subject matter 
comprised in each such juridical act. 2 The persons exist for 

1 In the 12th century, so renowned for its piety, they included amongst com 
modities some very delicate things. Thus a French poet of the period enumerate? 
amongst the goods to be fund in the market of Landit, not only clothing, shoes, 
leather, agricultural implements, &c., but also " femmes folles de leur corps." 

* Proudhon begins by taking his ideal of justice, of "justice eternelle," from th 
juridical relations that correspond to the production of commodities: thereby, 
it may be noted, he proves, to the consolation of all good citizens, that the 
production of commodities is a form of production as everlasting as justice. 
Then he turns round and seeks to reform the actual production of commodities, 
and the actual legal system corresponding thereto, in accordance with this ideal. 

Exchange. 97 

one another merely as representatives of, and, therefore, as 
owners of, commodities. In the course of our investigation we 
shall find, in general, that the characters who appear on the 
economic stage are but the personifications of the economical 
relations that exist between them. 

What chiefly distinguishes a commodity from its owner is 
the fact, that it looks upon every other commodity as but the 
form of appearance of its own value. A born leveller and a 
cynic, it is always ready to exchange not only soul, but body, 
with any and every other commodity, be the same more repul 
sive than Maritornes herself. The owner makes up for this 
lack in the commodity of a sense of the concrete, by his own 
five and more senses. His commodity possesses for himself no 
immediate use-value. Otherwise, he would not bring it to the 
market. It has use-value for others; but for himself its only 
direct use-value is that of being a depository of exchange 
value, and consequently, a means of exchange. 1 Therefore, 
he makes up his mind to part with it for commodities whose 
value in use is of service to him. All commodities are non-use- 
values for their owners, and use-values for their non-owners. 
Consequently, they must all (.-liMiip- li;m<U But ihi< chungf 
of hands is what constitutes their exchange, and the latter 
puts them in relation with each other as values, and realises 
them as values. Hence commodities must be realised as values 
before they can be realised as use-values. 

On the other hand, they must show that they are use- 
values before they can be realised as values. For the labour 
spent upon them counts effectively, only in so far as it is spent 

What opinion should we have of a chemist, who, instead of studying the actual 
laws of the molecular changes in the composition and decomposition of matter, and 
on that foundation solving definite problems, claimed to regulate the composition 
and decomposition of matter by means of the "eternal ideas," of "naturalite" 
and "affinitd?" Do we really know any more about "usury," when we say it 
contradicts "justice eternelle," "dquite eternelle," "mutualite" eternellc," and other 
Veritec e ternelles" than the fathers of the church did when they said it was incom 
patible with "grace eternelle," "foi eternelle," and "la volonte eternelle de Dieu?" 

1 " For two-fold is the use of every object. . . . The one is peculiar to the 
object as such, the other is not, as a sandal which may be worn, and is also ex 
changeable. Both are uses of the sandal, for even he who exchanges the sandal for 
the money or food he Is in want of, makes use of the sandal as a sandal. But not 
in its natural way. For it has not been made for the sake of being exchanged." 
(Aristoteles, de Rep., 1. i. c. 9.) 



98 Capitalist Production. 

in a form that is useful for others. Whether that labour is use 
ful for others and its product consequently capable of satisfying 
the wants of others, can be proved only by the act of exchange. 

Every owner of a commodity wishes to part with it in ex 
change only for those commodities whose use-value satisfies 
some want of his. Looked at in this way, exchange is for 
him simply a private transaction. On the other hand, he de 
sires to realise the value of his commodity, to convert it into 
any other suitable commodity of equal value, irrespective of 
whether his own commodity has or has not any use-value for 
the owner of the other. From this point of view, exchange is 
for him a social transaction of a general character. But one 
and the same set of transactions cannot be simultaneously for 
all owners of commodities both exclusively private and ex 
clusively social and general. 

Let us look at the matter a little closer. To the owner of a 
commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own, a 
particular equivalent, and consequently his own commodity is 
the universal equivalent for all the others. But since this 
applies to every owner, there is, in fact, no commodity acting 
as universal equivalent, and the relative value of commodities 
possesses no general form under which they can be equated as 
values and have the magnitude of their values compared. So 
far, therefore, they do not confront each other as commodities, 
but only as products or use-values. In their difficulties our 
commodity-owners think like Faust: "Im Anfang war die 
That" They therefore acted and transacted before they 
thought. Instinctively they conform to the laws imposed by 
the nature of commodities. They cannot bring their com 
modities into relation as values, and therefore as commodities, 
except by comparing them with some one other commodity 
as the universal equivalent. That we saw from the analysis 
of a commodity. But a particular commodity cannot become 
the universal equivalent except by a social act The social 
action therefore of all other commodities, sets apart the par 
ticular commodity in which they all represent their values. 
Thereby the bodily form of this commodity becomes the form 
of the socially recognised universal equivalent. To be the 

Exchange. 99 

universal equivalent, becomes, by this social process, the 
specific function of the commodity thus excluded by the rest. 
Thus it becomes money. "Illi unurn consilium habent et 
virtutem et potestatem suam bestise tradunt. Et ne quia 
possit emere aut vendere, nisi qui habet characterem aut 
nomen bestise, aut numerum nominis ejus." (Apocalypse.) 

Money is a crystal formed of necessity in the course of the 
exchanges, whereby different products of labour are practically 
equated to one another and thus by practice converted into 
commodities. The historical progress and extension of ex 
changes develops the contrast, latent in commodities, between 
use-value and value. The necessity for giving an external 
expression to this contrast for the purposes of commercial in 
tercourse, urges on the establishment of an independent form 
of value, and finds no rest until it is once for all satisfied by 
the differentiation of commodities into commodities and money. 
At the same rate, then, as the conversion of products into 
commodities is being accomplished, so also is the conversion of 
one special commodity into money. 1 

The direct barter of products attains the elementary form 
of the relative expression of value in one respect, but not in 
another. That form is x Commodity A=y Commodity B. 
The form of direct barter is x use-value A=y use-value B. 2 
The articles A and B in this case are not as yet commodities, 
but become so only by the act of barter. The first step made 
by an object of utility towards acquiring exchange-value 
is when it forms a non-use-value for its owner, and that hap 
pens when it forms a superfluous portion of some article 
required for his immediate wants. Objects in themselves are 
external to man, and consequently alienable by him. In order 
that this alienation may be reciprocal, it is only necessary for 

1 From this we may form an estimate of the shrewdness of the petit-bourgeois 
socialism, which, while perpetuating the production of commodities, aims at 
abolishing the " antagonism " between money and commodities, and consequently, 
since money exists only by virtue of this antagonism, at abolishing money itself. 
We might just as well try to retain Catholicism without the Pope. For more 
on this point see my work, "Critique of Political Economy," p. 73, ff. 

9 So long as, instead of two distinct use-values being exchanged, a chaotic mass 
of articles are offered as the equivalent of a single article, which is often the case 
with savages, even the direct barter of products is in its first infancy. 

ioo Capitalist Production. 

men, by a tacit understanding, to treat each other as private 
owners of those alienable objects, and by implication as inde 
pendent individuals. But such a state of reciprocal indepen 
dence has no existence in a primitive society based on pro 
perty in common, whether such a society takes the form of a 
patriarchal family, an ancient Indian community, or a Peru 
vian Inca State. The exchange of commodities, therefore, first 
begins on the boundaries of such communities, at their points 
of contact with other similar communities, or with members of 
the latter. So soon, however, as products once become com 
modities in the external relations of a community, they aho, 
by reaction, become so in its internal intercourse. The pro 
portions in which they are exchangeable are at first quite a 
matter of chance. What makes them exchangeable is the 
mutual desire of their owners to alienate them. Meantime the 
need for foreign objects of utility gradually establishes itself. 
The constant repetition of exchange makes it a normal social 
act. In the course of time, therefore, some portion at least of 
the products of labour must be produced with a special vi.yw 
to exchange. From that moment the distinction becones 
firmly established between the utility of an object for the pur 
poses of consumption, and its utility for the purposes of ex 
change. Its use-value becomes distinguished from its ( ex 
change value. On the other hand, the quantitative proportion 
in which the articles are exchangeable, becomes dependent m 
their production itself. Custom stamps them as values with 
definite magnitudes. 

In the direct barter of products, each commodity is directly 
a means of exchange to its owner, and to all other persons in 
equivalent, but that only in so far as it has use-value for then. 
At this stage, therefore, the articles exchanged do not acquire 
a value-form independent of their own use-value, or of the 
individual needs of the exchangers. The necessity for a value- 
form grows with the increasing number and variety of the- 
commodities exchanged. The problem and the means of solu 
tion arise simultaneously. Commodity-owners never equate 
their own commodities to those of others, and exchange thrm 
on a large scale, without different kinds of commodities belor g- 

Exchange. 101 

ing to different owners being exchangeable for, and equated as 
values to, one and the same special article. Such last-men 
tioned article, by becoming the equivalent of various other 
commodities, acquires at once, though within narrow limits, 
the character of a general social equivalent. This character 
comes and goes with the momentary social acts that called it 
into life. In turns and transiently it attaches itself first to this 
and then to that commodity. But with the development of 
exchange it fixes itself firmly and exclusively to particular 
sorts of commodities, and becomes crystallised by assuming the 
money-form. The particular kind of commodity to which it 
sticks is at first a matter of accident, Nevertheless there are 
two circumstances whose influence is decisive. The money- 
form attaches itself either to the most important articles of ex 
change from outside, and these in fact are primitive and nat 
ural forms in which the exchange-value of home products finds 
expression; or else it attaches itself to the object of utility 
that forms, like cattle, the. chief portion of indigenous alienable 
wealth. Nomad races are the first to develop the money-form, 
because all their worldly goods consist of movable objects 
and are therefore directly alienable ; and because their mode of 
life, by continually bringing them into contact with foreign 
communities, solicits the exchange of products. Man has often 
made man himself, under the form of slaves, serve as the prim 
itive material of money, but has never used land for that 
purpose. Such an idea could only spring up in a bourgeois 
society already well developed. It dates from the last third of 
the 17th century, and the first attempt to put it in practice on a 
national scale was made a century afterwards, during the 
French bourgeois revolution. 

In proportion as exchange bursts its local bonds, and the 
value of commodities more and more expands into an embodi 
ment of human labour in the abstract, in the same proportion 
the character of money attaches itself to commodities that are 
by nature fitted to perform the social function of a universal 
equivalent. Those commodities are the precious metals. 

The truth of the proposition that, "although gold and silver 
are not by nature money, money is by nature gold and 

IO2 Capitalist Production. 

silver/ 1 is shown by the fitness of the physical properties of 
these metals for the functions of money. 2 Up to this point, 
however, we are acquainted only with one function of money, 
namely, to serve as the form of manifestation of the value of 
commodities, or as the material in which the magnitudes of 
their values are socially expressed. An adequate form of 
manifestation of value, a fit embodiment of abstract, undiffer- 
entiated, and therefore equal human labour, that material 
alone can be whose every sample exhibits the same uniform 
qualities. On the other hand, since the difference between the 
magnitudes of value is purely quantitative, the money con- 
modity must be susceptible of merely quantitative differences, 
must therefore be divisible at will, and equally capable of beirg 
re-united. Gold and silver possess these properties by nature. 

The use-value of the money commodity becomes twofold. 
In addition to its special use-value as a commodity (gold, 
for instance, serving to stop teeth, to form the raw material of 
articles of luxury, &c.), it acquires a formal use-value, origina 
ting in its specific social function. 

Since all commodities are merely particular equivalents of 
money, the latter being their universal equivalent, they, with 
regard to the latter as the universal commodity, play the par s 
of particular commodities. 8 

We have seen that the money-form is but the reflex, throw a 
upon one single commodity, of the value relations between all 
the rest. That money is a commodity 4 is therefore a new dh- 

1 Karl Marx, L c. p. 212. "I metalli. . . naturalmcnte moneta," (Galiar i. 
"Delia moneta" in Custodi s Collection: Parte Moderna t. iii.). 

8 For further details on this subject see in my work cited above, the chapter en 
" The precious metals." 

"II danaro e la merce universale (Verri, 1. c., p. 16). 

* "Silver and gold themselves (which we may call by the general name of 
bullion), are . . . commodities . . . rising and falling in ... value. . . Bullio i, 
then, may be reckoned to be of higher value where the smaller weight will purcha^ 
the greatest quantity of the product or manufacture of the countrey," &c. ("A 
Discourse of the General Notions of Money, Trade, and Exchange, as they stard 
in relations to each other." By a Merchant. Lond., 1695, p. 7.) "Silver ard 
gold, coined or uncoined, though they are used for a measure of all other things, 
are no less a commodity than wine, oyl, tobacco, cloth, or stuffs." (" A Discourse 
concerning Trade, and that in particular of the East Indies," &c. London, 168 J, . 
p. 2.) "The stock and riches of the kingdom cannot properly be confined :o 
money, nor ought gold and silver to be excluded from being merchandize." ("A 

Exchange. 103 

covery only for those who, when they analyse it, start from its 
fully developed shape. The act of exchange gives to the com 
modity converted into money, not its value, but its specific 
value-form. By confounding these two distinct things some 
writers have been led to hold that the value of gold and silver 
is imaginary. 1 The fact that money can, in certain functions, 
be replaced by mere symbols of itself, gave rise to that other 
mistaken notion, that it is itself a mere symbol. Nevertheless 
under this error lurked a presentiment that the money-form of 
an object is not an inseparable part of that object, but is simply 
the form under which certain social relations manifest them 
selves. In this sense every commodity is a symbol, since, in so 
far as it is value, it is only the material envelope of the human 
labour spent upon it. 2 But if it be declared that the social 
characters assumed by objects, or the material forms assumed 
by the social qualities of labour under the regime of a definite 
mode of production, are mere symbols, it is in the same breath 
also declared that these characteristics are arbitrary fictions 
sanctioned by the so-called universal consent of mankind. This 

Treatise concerning the East India Trade being a most profitable Trade." Lon 
don, 1680, Reprint 1696, p. 4.) 

1 "L oro c 1 argento hanno valore come metalli anteriore all esser moneta." 
(Galiani, I.e.). Locke says, " The universal consent of mankind gave to silver, on 
account of its qualities which made it suitable for money, an. imaginary value." 
Law, on the other hand, " How could different nations give an imaginary value 
to any single thing ... or how could this imaginary value have maintained itself?" 
But the following shows how little he himself understood about the matter: " Sil 
ver was exchanged in proportion to the value in use it possessed, consequently in 
proportion to its real value. By its adoption as money it received an additional 
value (une valeur additionelle)" (Jean Law: "Considerations sur le numeraire 
et le commerce" in E. Daire s Edit, of "Economistes Financiers du XVIII. siecle.," 
p. 470). 

* L Argent en (des denrees) est le signe." (V. de Forbonnais: "Elements du 
Commerce, Nouv. Edit. Leyde, 1776," t. II., p. 143.) "Comme signe il est attire 
par les denrees." (I.e., p. 155). " L argent est un signe d une chose et la 
represente." (Montesquieu: "Esprit des Lois," Oeuvres, Lond. 1767, t. II., p. 2.) 
"L argent n est pas simple signe, car il est lui-meme richesse; il ne represente 
pas les valeurs, il les e"quivaut." (Le Trosne, I.e., p. 910.) "The notion of value 
contemplates the valuable article as a mere symbol; the article counts not for what 
it is, but for what it is worth." (Hegel, I.e., p. 100.) Lawyers started long 
before economists the idea that money is a mere symbol, and that the value of the 
precious metals is purely imaginary. This they did in the sycophantic service of 
the crowned heads, supporting the right of the latter to debase the coinage, during 
the whole of the middle ages, by the traditions of the Roman Empire and the 
conceptions of money to be found in the Pandects. "Qu aucun puisse ni doive 
faire doute," says an apt scholar of theirs, Philip of Valois, in a decree of 
1346, " que 4 nous et a notre majeste royale n appartiennent seulement. . . le 

IO4 Capitalist Production. 

suited the mode of explanation in favour during the 18th 
century. Unable to account for the origin of the puzzling 
forms assumed by social relations between man and man, peo 
ple sought to denude them of their strange appearance by 
ascribing to them a conventional origin. 

It has already been remarked above that the equivalent form 
of a commodity does not imply the determination of the magni 
tude of its value. Therefore, although we may be aware that 
gold is money, and consequently directly exchangeable for all 
other commodities, yet that fact by no means tells how much 
10 Ibs., for instance, of gold is worth. Money, like every other 
commodity, cannot express the magnitude of its value except 
relatively in other commodities. This value is determined by 
the labour-time required for its production, and is expressed by 
the quantity of any other commodity that costs the same 
amount of labour-time, 1 Such quantitative determination of 
its relative value takes place at the source of its production by 
means of barter. When it steps into circulation as money, its 
value is already given. In the last decades of the 17th cen 
tury it had already been shown that money is a commodity, 
but this step marks only the infancy of the analysis. The 
difficulty lies, not in comprehending that money is a commo 
dity, but in discovering how, why and by what means a com 
modity becomes money. 2 

meatier, Ic fait, l e"tat, la provision et toute 1 ordonnancc des monnaies, de dormer 
tel cours, et pour tel prix comme il nous plait et bon nous semble." It waf 
a maxim of the Roman Law that the value of money was fixed by decree of the 
emperor. It was expressly forbidden to treat money as a commodity. " Pecunias 
vero nulli emere fas erit, nam in usu publico constitutas oportet non esse 
ntercem." Some good work on this question has been done by G. F. Pagnini: 
"Saggio sopra il giusto pregio delle cose, 1751"; Custodi "Parte Moderna," t. 
II. In the second part of his work Pagnini directs his polemics especially against 
the lawyers. 

1 " If a man can bring to London an ounce of Silver out of the Earth in 
Peru, in the same time that he can produce a bushel of Corn, then the one is the 
natural price of the other; now, if by reason of new or more easie mines a man 
can procure two ounces of silver as easily as he formerly did one, the corn will 
be as cheap at ten shillings the bushel as it was before at five shillings, caeteria 
paribus." William Petty: "A Treatise on Taxes and Contributions." Lond., 1662, 
p. 32. 

* The learned Professor Roscher, after first informing us that " the false defini 
tions of money may be divided into two main groups: those which make it more, 
and those which make it less, than a commodity," gives us a long and very mixed 
catalogue of works on the nature of money, from which it appears that he has 

Exchange. 105 

We have already seen, from the most elementary expres 
sion of value, x commodity A y commodity B, that the object 
in which the magnitude of the value of another object is repre 
sented, appears to have the equivalent form independently of 
this relation, as a social property given to it by Nature. W v 
followed up this false appearance to its final establishment, 
which is complete so soon as the universal equivalent form 
becomes identified with the bodily form of a particular com 
modity, and thus crystallised into the money-form. What 
appears to happen is, not that gold becomes money, in conse 
quence of all other commodities expressing their values in it, 
but, on the contrary, that all other commodities universally 
express their values in gold, because it is money. The inter 
mediate steps of the process vanish in the result and leave no 
trace behind. Commodities find their own value already com 
pletely represented, without any initiative on their part, in 
another commodity existing in company with them. These 
objects, gold and silver, just as they come out of the bowels of 
the earth, are forthwith the direct incarnation of all human 
labour. Hence the magic of money. In the form of society 
now under consideration, the behaviour of men in the social 
process of production is purely atomic. Hence their relations 
to each other in production assume a material character inde 
pendent of their control and conscious individual action. 
These facts manifest themselves at first by products as a gen 
eral rule taking the form of commodities. We have seen how 
the progressive development of a society of commodity-pro 
ducers stamps one privileged commodity with the character of 
money. Hence the riddle presented by money is but the riddle 

not the remotest idea of the real history of the theory; and then he moralises 
thus: " For the rest, it is not to be denied that most of the later economists do not 
bear sufficiently in mind the peculiarities that distinguish money from other com 
modities" (it is then, after all, either more or less than a commodity!) . . . "So 
far, the semi-mercantilist reaction of Ganilh is not altogether without foundation." 
(Wilhelm Roscher: " Die Grundlagen der Nationaloekonomie," 3rd Edn., 1858, pp. 
277-210) Morel less! not sufficiently 1 so far! not altogether! What clearness and 
precision of ideas and language I And such eclectic professorial twaddle is mod 
estly baptised by Mr. Roscher, " the anatomico-physiological method " of political 
economy! One discovery however, he must have credit for, namely, that money is 
"a pleasant commodity." 

106 Capitalist Production. 

presented by commodities; only it now strikes us in its most 
glaring form. 



THROUGHOUT this work, I assume, for the sake of simplicity, 
gold as the money-commodity. 

The first chief function -of money is to supply commodities 
with the material for the expression of their values, or to re 
present their values as magnitudes of the same denomination, 
qualitatively equal, and quantitatively comparable. It thus 
serves as a universal measure of value. And only by virtue of 
this function does gold, the equivalent commodity par excel 
lence, become money. 

It is not money that renders commodities commensurable. 
Just the contrary. It is because all commodities, as values, are 
realised human labour, and therefore commensurable, that 
their values can be measured by one and the same special com 
modity, and the latter be converted into the common measure 
of their values, i.e., into money. Money as a measure of 
value, is the phenomenal form that must of necessity be as 
sumed by that measure of value which is immanent in com 
modities, labour-time. 1 

The expression of the value of a commodity in gold x 

1 The question Why docs not money directly represent labour-time, so that a 
piece of paper may represent, for instance, x hour s labour, is at bottom the same 
as the question why, given the production of commodities, must products take the 
form of commodities? This is evident, since their taking the form of commodities 
implies their differentiation into commodities and money. Or, why cannot pri 
vate labour labour for the account of private individuals be treated as its oppo 
site, immediate social labour? I have elsewhere examined thoroughly the Utopian 
idea of "labour-money" in a society founded on the production of commodities 
(1. c., p. 61, seq.). On this point I will only say further, that Owen s " labour- 
money," for instance, is no more "money" than a ticket for the theatre. Owen 
presupposes directly associated labour, a form of production that is entirely in 
consistent with the production of commodities. The certificate of labour is merely 
evidence of the part taken by the individual in the common labour, and of his 
right to a certain portion of the common produce destined for consumption. But 
it never enters into Owen s head to presuppose the production of commodities, 
and at the same time, by juggling with money, to try to evade the necessary con 
ditions of that production. 

Money f or the Circulation of Commodities. 107 

commodity A=y money-commodity is its money-form or 
price. A single equation, such as 1 ton of iron=2 ounces of 
gold, now suffices to express the value of the iron in a socially 
valid manner. There is no longer any need for this equation 
to figure as a link in the chain of equations that express the 
values of all other commodities, because the equivalent com 
modity, gold, now has the character of money. The general 
form of relative value has resumed its original shape of simple 
or isolated relative value. On the other hand, the expanded 
expression of relative value, the endless series of equations, has 
now hecome the form peculiar to the relative value of the 
money-commodity. The series itself, too, is now given, and 
has social recognition in the prices of actual commodities. We 
have only to read the quotations of a price-list backwards, to 
find the magnitude of the value of money expressed in all sorts 
of commodities. But money itself has no price. In order to 
put it on an equal footing with all other commodities in this 
respect, we should be obliged to equate it to itself as its own 

The price or money-form of commodities is, like their form 
of value generally, a form quite distinct from their palpable 
bodily form; it is, therefore, a purely ideal or mental form. 
Although invisible, the value of iron, linen and corn has actual 
existence in these very articles : it is ideally made perceptible 
by their equality with gold, a relation that, so to say, exists 
only in their own heads. Their owner must, therefore, lend 
them his tongue, or hang a ticket on them, before their prices 
can be communicated to the outside world. 1 Since the ex 
pression of the value of commodities in gold is a merely ideal 

1 Savages and half -civilised races use the tong differently. Captain Parry says 
of the inhabitants on the west coast of Baffin s Bay: "In this case (he refers to 
barter) they licked it (the thing represented to them) twice to their tongues, after 
which they seemed to consider the bargain satisfactorily concluded." In the same 
way, the Eastern Esquimaux licked the articles they received in exchange. If the 
tongue is thus used in the North as the organ of appropriation, no wonder that, in 
the South, the stomach serves as the organ of accumulated property, and that a 
Kaffir estimates the wealth of a man by the size of his belly. That the Kaffirs 
know what they are about is shown by the following: at the same time that the 
official British Health Report of 1864 disclosed the deficiency of fat-forming food 
among a large part of the working class, a certain Dr. Harvey (not, however, the 
celebrated discoverer of the circulation of the blood), made a good thing by adver 
tising recipes for reducing the superfluous fat of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy. 

io8 Capitalist Production. 

act, we may use for this purpose imaginary or ideal money. 
Every trader knows, that he is far from having turned his 
goods into money, when he has expressed their value in a price 
or in, imaginary money, and that it does not require the least 
bit of real gold, to estimate in that metal millions of pounds* 
worth of goods. When, therefore, money serves as a measure 
of value, it is employed only as imaginary or ideal money. 
This circumstance has given rise to the wildest theories. 1 But, 
although the money that performs the functions of a measure 
of value is only ideal money, price depends entirely upon the 
actual substance that is money. The value, or in other word, 
the quantity of human labour contained in a ton of iron, is 
expressed in imagination by such a quantity of the money- 
commodity as contains the same amount of labour as the iror . 
According, therefore, as the measure of value is gold, silver, or 
copper, the value of the ton of iron will be expressed by very 
different prices, or will be represented by very different quan 
tities of those metals respectively. 

If, therefore, two different commodities, such as gold and 
silver, are simultaneously measures of value, all commodities 
have two prices one a gold-price, the other a silver-price. 
These exist quietly side by side, so long as the ratio of tEs 
value of silver to that of gold remains unchanged, say, at 15 : 1. 
Every change in their ratio disturbs the ratio which exists 
between the gold-prices and the silver-prices of commodities, 
and thus proves, by facts, that a double standard of value h 
inconsistent with the functions of a standard. 2 

1 See Karl Marx: "Critique, etc., chapter II. B., Theories of the Unit of Meas 
ure of Money," p. 01, ff. 

"Wherever gold and silver have by law been made to perform the function of 
money or of a measure of value side by side, it has always been tried, but in 
vain, to treat them as one and the same material. To assume that there is a:i 
invariable ratio between the quantities of gold and silver in which a given quantity 
of labour-time is incorporated, is to assume, in fact, that gold and silver are o" 
one and the same material, and that a given mass of the less valuable metal, 
silver, is a constant fraction of a given mass of gold. From the reign of Edward 
III. to the time of George II., the history of money in England consists of on- 
long series of perturbations caused by the clashing of the legally fixed ratio be 
tween the values of gold and silver, with the fluctuations in their real values. A: 
one time gold was too high, at another, silver. The metal that for the time beinfc 
was estimated below its value, was withdrawn from circulation, melted and ex 
ported. The ratio between the two metals was then again altered by law, but 
the new nominal ratio soon came into conflict again with the real one. In our owi 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 109 

Commodities with definite prices present themselves under 
the form : a commodity A=x gold ; b commodity B=z gold ; 
c commodity C=y gold, &c., where a, b, c, represent definite 
quantities of the commodities A, B, C and x, z, y, definite 
quantities of gold. The values of these commodities are, 
therefore, changed in imagination into so many different quan 
tities of gold. Hence, in spite of the confusing variety of 
the commodities themselves, their values become magnitudes 
of the same denomination, gold-magnitudes. They are now 
capable of being compared with each other and measured, and 
the want becomes technically felt of comparing them with 
some fixed quantity of gold as a unit measure. This unit, by 
subsequent division into aliquot parts, becomes itself the 
standard or scale. Before they become money, gold, silver, 
and copper already possess such standard measures in their 
standards of weight, so that, for example, a pound weight, 
while serving as the unit, is, on the one hand, divisible into 
ounces, and, on the other, may be combined to make up 
hundredweights. 1 It is owing to this that, in all metallic 
currencies, the names given to the standards of money or of 
price were originally taken from the pre-existing names of the 
standards of weight. 

As measure of value and as standard of price, money has two 

times, the slight and transient fall in the value of gold compared with silver, which 
was a consequence of the Indo-Chinese demand for silver, produced on a far 
more extended scale in France the same phenomena, export of silver, and its ex 
pulsion from circulation by gold. During the years 1855, 1856 and 1867, the excess 
in France of gold-imports over gold exports amounted to 41,580,000, while the 
excess of silver-exports over silver-imports was 14,704,000. In fact, in those 
countries in which both metals are legally measures of value, and therefore both 
legal tender, so that everyone has the option of paying in either metal, the metal 
that rises in value is at a premium, and, like every other commodity, measures its 
price in the over-estimated metal which alone serves in reality as the standard 
of value. The result of all experience and history with regard to this question is 
simply that, where two commodities perform by law the functions of a measure of 
value, in practice one alone maintains that position." (Karl Marx, 1. c. pp. 90-91.) 
1 The peculiar circumstance, that while the ounce of gold serves in England as 
the unit of the standard of money, the pound sterling does not form an aliquot 
part of it, has been explained as follows: "Our coinage was originally adapted 
to the employment of silver only, hence, an ounce of silver can always be divided 
into a certain adequate number of pieces of coin; but as gold was introduced 
at a later period into a coinage adapted only to silver, an ounce of gold cannot be 
coined into an aliquot number of pieces." Maclaren, "A Sketch of the History 
of the Currency." London, 1858, p. 16. 

no Capitalist Production. 

entirely distinct functions to perform. It is the measure 
of value inasmuch as it is the socially recognised incarnation 
of human labour; it is the standard of price inasmuch as it is 
a fixed weight of metal. As the measure of value Jjb^serves to 
convert the values of all the manifold commodities into prices, 
into imaginary quantities of gold ; as the standard of price it 
measures those quantities of gold. The measure of values 
measures commodities considered as values; the standard of 
price measures, on the contrary, quantities of gold by a unit 
quantity of gold, not the value of one quantity of gold by the 
weight of another. In order to make gold a standard of price, 
a certain weight must be fixed upon as the unit. In this case, 
as in all cases of measuring quantities of the same denomina 
tion, the establishment of an unvarying unit of measure is all- 
important. Hence, the less the unit is subject to variation, so 
much the better does the standard of price fulfill its office. But 
only in so far as it is itself a product of labour, and, therefore), 
potentially variable in value, can gold serve as a measure of 
value. 1 , 

It is, in the first place, quite clear that a change in the valua 
of gold does not, in any way, affect its function as a standard 
of price. No matter how this value varies, the proportions 
between the values of different quantities of the metal remain 
constant. However great the fall in its value, 12 ounces of 
gold still have 12 times the value of 1 ounce; and in prices, 
the only thing considered is the relation between different 
quantities of gold. Since, on the other hand, no rise or fall in 
the value of an ounce of gold can alter its weight, no alteration 
can take place in the weight of its aliquot parts. Thus gold 
always renders the same service as an invariable standard of 
price, however much its value may vary. 

In the second place, a change in the vajue of gold does no!; 
interfere with its functions as a measure of value. Thu 
change affects all commodities simultaneously, and, therefore, 
cceterip paribus, leaves their relative values inter se f unaltered. 

1 With English writers the confusion between measure of value and standard of 
price (standard of value) is indescribable. Their functions, as well as tbir names 
are constantly interchanged. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. in 

although those values are now expressed in higher or lower 

Just as when we estimate the value of any commodity by 
a definite quantity of the use-value of some other commodity, 
so in estimating the value of the former in gold, we assume 
nothing more than that the production of a given quantity of 
gold costs, at the given period, a given amount of labour. As 
regards the fluctuations of prices generally, they are subject to 
the laws of elementary relative value investigated in a former 

A general rise in the prices of commodities can result only, 
either from a rise in their values the value of money remain 
ing constant or from a fall in the value of money, the values 
of commodities remaining constant On the other hand, a 
general fall in prices can result only, either from a fall in the 
values of commodities the value of money remaining con 
stant or from a rise in the value of money, the values of 
commodities remaining constant. It therefore by no means 
follows, that a rise in the value of money necessarily implies a 
proportional fall in the prices of commodities ; or that a fall in 
the value of money implies a proportional rise in prices. 
Such change of price holds good only in the case of com 
modities whose value remains constant. With those, for ex 
ample whose value rises, simultaneously with, and propor 
tionally to, that of money, there is no alteration in price. 
And if their value rise either slower or faster than that of 
money, the fall or rise in their prices will be determined by 
the difference between the change in their value and that of 
money ; and so on. 

Let us now go back to the consideration of the price-form. 

By degrees there arises a discrepancy between the current 
money names of the various weights of the precious metal 
figuring as money, and the actual weights which those names 
originally represented. This discrepancy is the result of his 
torical causes, among which the chief are: (1) The im 
portation of foreign money into an imperfectly developed 
community. This happened in Rome in its early days, where 
gold and silver coins circulated at first as foreign commodities. 

112 Capitalist Production. 

The names of these foreign coins never coincide with those of 
the indigenous weights. (2) As wealth increases, the less 
precious metal is thrust out by the more precious from its place 
as a measure of value, copper by silver, silver by gold, however 
much this order of sequence may be in contradiction with 
poetical chronology. 1 The word pound, for instance, was the 
money-name given to an actual pound weight of silver. When 
gold replaced silver as a measure of value, the same name was 
applied according to the ratio between the values of silver and 
gold, to perhaps 1-1 5th of a pound of gold. The word pound, 
as a money-name, thus becomes differentiated from the same 
word as a weight-name. 2 (3) The debasing of money carried 
on for centuries by kings and princes to such an extent that, of 
the original weights of the coins, nothing in fact remained but 
the names. 

These historical causes convert the separation of the money- 
name from the weight-name into an established habit with the 
community. 3 Since the standard of money is on the one hand 
purely conventional, and must on the other hand find general 
acceptance, it is in the end regulated by law. A given weight 
of one of the precious metals, an ounce of gold, for instance, 
becomes officially divided into aliquot parts, with legally be 
stowed names, such as pound, dollar, &c. These aliquot parts, 
which henceforth serve as units of money, are then sub 
divided into other aliquot parts with legal names, such as 
shilling, penny, &c. 4 But, both before and after these 
divisions are made, a definite weight of metal is the standard 
of metallic money. The sole alteration consists in the sub 
division and denomination. 

1 Moreover, it has not general historical validity. 

3 It is thus that the pound sterling in English denotes less than one-third of its 
original weight; the pound Scot, before the union, only l-36th; the French livre, 
l-74th; the Spanish maravedi, less than l-1000th; and the Portuguese rei a still 
smaller fraction. 

* "Le monete le quali oggi sono ideali sono le piu antiche d ogni nazione, e tutte 
furono un tempo reali, e perche erano reali con esse si contava." (Galiam: 
Delia moneta, 1. c., p. 153.) 

* David Urquhart remarks in his "Familiar Words" on the monstrosity (I) 
that now-a-days a pound (sterling), which is the unit of the English standard 
of money, is equal to about a quarter of an ounce of gold. "This is falsify 
ing a measure, not establishing a standard." He sees in this " false denomination " 
of the weight of gold, as in everything else, the falsifying hand of civilisation. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 113 

The prices, or quantities of gold, into which the values of 
commodities are ideally changed, are therefore now expressed 
in the names of coins, or in the legally valid names of the sub 
divisions of the gold standard. Hence, instead of saying: A 
quarter of wheat is worth an ounce of gold ; we say, it is worth 
3 17s. lOJd. In this way commodities express by their prices 
how much they are worth, and money serves as money of 
account whenever it is a question of fixing the value of an 
article in its money-form. 1 

The name of a thing is something distinct from the qualities 
of that thing. I know nothing of a man, by knowing that his 
name is Jacob. In the same way with regard to money, every 
trace of a value-relation disappears in the names pound, dollar, 
franc, ducat, &c. The confusion caused by attributing a hidden 
meaning to these cabalistic signs is all the greater, because 
these money-names express both the values of commodities, 
and, at the same time, aliquot parts of the weight of the metal 
that is the standard of money. 2 On the other hand, it is 
absolutely necessary that value, in order that it may be distin 
guished from the varied bodily forms of commodities, should 
assume this material and unmeaning, but, at the same time, 
purely social form. 3 

1 When Anacharsis was asked for what purposes the Greeks used money, he re 
plied, " For reckoning." (Athen. Deipn. 1. "iv. 49 v. 2. ed Schweighauser, 1802.) 

* " Owing to the fact that money, when serving as the standard of price, appears 
under the same reckoning names as do the prices of commodities, and that 
therefore the sum of 3 17s. 10 l / 2 d. may signify on the one hand an ounce weight 
of gold, and on the other, the value of a ton of iron, this reckoning name of money 
has been called its mint-price. Hence there sprang up the extraordinary notion, 
that the value of gold is estimated in its own material, and that, in contra-distinc- 
tion to all other commodities, its price is fixed by the State. It was erroneously 
thought that the giving of reckoning names to definite weights of gold, is the 
same thing as fixing the value of those weights." (Karl Marx. 1. c., p. 89.) 

3 See "Theories of the Unit of Measure of Money" in "Critique of Political 
Economy," p. 91, ff. The fantastic notions about raising or lowering the mint- 
price of money by transferring to greater or smaller weights of gold or silver 
the names already legally appropriated to fixed weights of those metals; such no 
tions, at least in those cases in which they aim, not at clumsy financial operations 
against creditors, both public and private, but at economical quack remedies have 
been so exhaustively treated by Wm. Petty in his " Quantulumcunque concerning 
money: To the Lord Marquis of Halifax, 1682," that even his immediate followers, 
Sir Dudley North and John Locke, not to mention later ones, could only dilute 
him. " If the wealth of a nation," he remarks, " could be decupled by a proclama 
tion, it were strange that such proclamations have not long since been made by our 
Governors." (1. c., p. 86.) 


H4 Capitalist Production. 

Price is the money-name of the labour realised in a commo 
dity. Hence the expression of the equivalence of a commodity 
with the sum of money constituting its price, is a tautology, 1 
just as in general the expression of the relative value of a 
commodity is a statement of the equivalence of two commod 
ities. But although price, being the exponent of the magni 
tude of a commodity s value, is the exponent of its exchange- 
ratio with money, it does not follow that the exponent of this 
exchange-ratio is necessarily the exponent of the magnitude of 
the commodity s value. Suppose two equal quantities of social 
ly necessary labour to be respectively represented by 1 quarte:* 
of wheat and 2 (nearly \ oz. of gold), 2 is the expression in 
money of the magnitude of the value of the quarter of wheat, 
or is its price. If now circumstances allow of this price bein^; 
raised to 3, or compel it to be reduced to 1, then although 
1 and 3 may be too small or too great properly to express 
the magnitude of the wheat s value, nevertheless they are iU 
prices, for they are, in the first place, the form under which its 
value appears, i.e., money; and in the second place, the ex 
ponents of its exchange-ratio with money. If the conditions 
of production, in other words, if the productive power oi 
labour remain constant, the same amount of social labour-time 
must, both before and after the change in price, be expended in 
the reproduction of a quarter of wheat. This circumstance de 
pends, neither on the will of the wheat producer, nor on that 
of the owners of other commodities. 

Magnitude of value expresses a relation of social production, 
it expresses the connection that necessarily exists between a 
certain article and the portion of the total labour-time of society 
required to produce it. As soon as magnitude of value is con 
verted into price, the above necessary relation takes the shape 
of a more or less accidental exchange-ratio between a single 
commodity and another, the money-commodity. But this ex 
change-ratio may express either the real magnitude of that 
commodity s value, or the quantity of gold deviating from that 
value, for which, according to circumstances, it may be parted 

1 " Ou bien, il faut consentir a dire qu une valeur d un million en argent vaut 
plus qu une valeur egale en marchandises." (Le Trosne 1. c. p. 919), which 
amounts to saying, "qu une valeur vaut plus qu une valeur egale." 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 115 

with. The possibility, therefore, of quantitative incongruity 
between price and magnitude of value, or the deviation of the 
former from the latter ; is inherent in the price-form itself. 
This is no defect, but, on the contrary, admirably adapts the 
price-form to a mode of production whose inherent laws impose 
themselves only as the mean of apparently lawless irregulari 
ties that compensate one another. 

The price-form, however, is not only compatible with the 
possibility of a quantitative incongruity between magnitude 
of value and price, i.e., between the former and its expression 
in money, but it may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency, so 
much so, that, although money is nothing but the value-form of 
commodities, price ceases altogether to express value. Objects 
that in themselves are no commodities, such as conscience, 
honour, &c., are capable of being offered for sale by their hold 
ers, and of thus acquiring, through their price, the form of com 
modities. Hence an object may have a price without having 
value. The price in that case is imaginary, like certain quan 
tifies in mathematics. On the other hand, the imaginary price- 
form may sometimes conceal either a direct or indirect real 
value-relation ; for instance, the price of uncultivated land, 
which is without value, because no human labour has been in 
corporated in it. 

Price, like relative value in general, expresses the value of 
a commodity (e.g., a ton of iron), by stating that a given quan 
tity of the equivalent (e.g., an ounce of gold), is directly ex 
changeable for iron. But it by no means states the converse, 
that iron is directly exchangeable for gold. In order, there 
fore, that a commodity may in practice act effectively as ex 
change value, it must quit its bodily shape, must transform it 
self from mere imaginary into real gold, although to the com 
modity such transubstantiation may be more difficult than to 
the Hegelian "concept," the transition from "necessity" to 
"freedom," or to a lobster the casting of his shell, or to Saint 
Jerome the putting off of the old Adam. 1 Though a commod- 

1 Jerome had to wrestle hard, not only in his youth with the bodilj flesh, as is 
shown by his fight in the desert with the handsome women of his imagination, but 
also in his old age with the spiritual flesh. " I thought," he says, " I was in the 
Spirit before the Judge of the Universe." "Who art thou?" asked a voice. "I am 

n6 Capitalist Production. 

ity may, side by side with its actual form (iron, for in 
stance), take in our imagination the form of gold, yet it cannot 
at one and the same time actually be both iron and gold. To 
fix its price, it suffices to equate it to gold in imagination. But 
to enable it to render to its owner the service of a universal 
equivalent, it must be actually replaced by gold. If the owner 
of the iron were to go to the owner of some other commodity 
offered for exchange, and were to refer him to the price of the 
iron as proof that it was already money, he would get the same 
answer as St. Peter gave in heaven to Dante, when the latter 

recited the creed 

" Assai bene trascorsa 
D esta moneta gia la lega e l peso, 
Ma dimmi se tu Thai nella tua borsa." 

A price therefore implies both that a commodity is exchange 
able for money, and also that it must be so exchanged. On 
the other hand, gold serves as an ideal measure of value, only 
because it has already, in the process of exchange, established 
itself as the money-commodity. Under the ideal measure of 
values there lurks the hard cash, 


a. The Meiamorphosis of Commodities. 

We saw in a former chapter that the exchange of commodi 
ties implies contradictory and mutually exclusive conditions. 
The differentiation of commodities into commodities and 
money does not sweep away these inconsistencies, but develops 
a modus vivendi, a form in which they can exist side by side. 
This is generally the way in which real contradictions are 
reconciled. For instance, it is a contradiction to depict one 
body as constantly falling towards another, and as, at the 
same time, constantly flying away from it. The ellipse is a 
form of motion which, while allowing this contradiction to go 
on, at the same time reconciles it. 

In so far as exchange is a process, by which commodities are 
transferred from hands in which they are non-use-values, to 

a Christian." "Thou liest," thundered back the great Judge, "thou art nought but 
a Ciceronian." 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 117 

hands in which they become use-values, it is a social circula 
tion of matter. The product of one form of useful labour 
replaces that of another. When once a commodity has found 
a resting-place, where it can serve as a use-value, it falls out 
of the sphere of exchange into that of consumption. But the 
former sphere alone interests us at present. We have, there 
fore, now to consider exchange from a formal point of view ; to 
investigate the change of form or metamorphosis of commodi 
ties which effectuates the social circulation of matter. 

The comprehension of this change of form is, as a rule, very 
imperfect. The cause of this imperfection is, apart from indis 
tinct notions of value itself, that every change of form in a 
commodity results from the exchange of two commodities, an 
ordinary one and the money-commodity. If we keep in view the 
material fact alone that a commodity has been exchanged for gold 
we overlook the very thing that we ought to observe namely, 
what has happened to the form of the commodity. We overlook 
the facts that gold, when a mere commodity, is not money, and 
that when other commodities express their prices in gold, this 
gold is but the money-form of those commodities themselves. 

Commodities, first of all, enter into the process of exchange 
just as they are. The process then differentiates them into 
commodities and money, and thus produces an external oppo 
sition corresponding to the internal opposition inherent in 
them, as being at once use-values and values. Commodities as 
use-values now stand opposed to money as exchange value. 
On the other hand, both opposing sides are commodities, 
unities of use-value and value. But this unity of differences 
manifests itself at two opposite poles, and at each pole in an 
opposite way. Being poles they are as necessarily opposite as 
they are connected. On the one side of the equation we have 
an ordinary commodity, which is in reality a use-value. Its 
value is expressed only ideally in its price, by which it is 
equated to its opponent, the gold, as to the real embodiment 
of its value. On the other hand, the gold, in its metallic 
reality ranks as the embodiment of value, as money. Gold, 
as gold, is exchange value itself. As to its use-value, that has 
only an ideal existence, represented by the series of expres- 

n8 Capitalist Production. 

sions of relative value in which it stands face to face with all 
other commodities, the sum of whose uses makes up the sum 
of the various uses of gold. These antagonistic forms of com 
modities are the real forms in which the process of their 
exchange moves and takes place. 

Let us now accompany the owner of some commodity say, 
our old friend the weaver of linen to the scene of action, the 
market. His 20 yards of linen has a definite price, 2. He 
exchanges it for the 2, and then, like a man of the good old 
stamp that he is ; he parts with the 2 for a family Bible of the 
same price. The linen, which in his eyes is a mere commodity, 
a depository of value, he alienates in exchange for gold, which 
is the linen s value-form, and this form he again parts with for 
another commodity, the Bible ; which is destined to enter his 
house as an object of utility and of edification to its inmates. 
The exchange becomes an accomplished fact by two metamor 
phoses of opposite yet supplementary character the conversion 
of the commodity into money, and the re-conversion of the 
money into a commodity. 1 The two phases of this metamor 
phosis are both of them distinct transactions of the weaver 
selling, or the exchange of the commodity for money ; buying, 
or the exchange of the money for a commodity ; and, the unity 
of the two acts, selling in order to buy. 

The result of the whole transaction, as regards the weaver, 
is this, that instead of being in possession of the linen, he now 
has the Bible; instead of his original commodity, he now 
possesses another of the same value but of different utility. 
In like manner he procures his other means of subsistence and 
means of production. From his point of view, the whole pro 
cess effectuates nothing more than the exchange of the product 
of his labour for the product of some one else s, nothing more 
than an exchange of products. 

The exchange of commodities is therefore accompanied by 
the following changes in their form. 

141 IK 8t TOV irvpbs dvra/Jielpeffdai irdvra, (f>r}fflv,6 H/x/eXeiTO$, Kal trvp 

far&vTuv, tiffirep xP vff v XP^I J - aTa - Ka ^-XP ni Ji ^ r< ^ v XpV*k M (F. Lassalle: Die Philosophic 
Herakleitos des Dunkeln. Berlin, 1845. Vol. I, p. 222.) Lassalle, in his note on 
this passage, p. 224, n. 3, erroneously makes gold a mere symbol of value. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 119 

Commodity Money Commodity. 

C M C. 

The result of the whole process is; so far as concerns the 
objects themselves, C C, the exchange of one commodity for 
another, the circulation of materialised social labour. When 
this result is attained, the process is at an end. 

C M. First metamorphosis, or sale. 

The leap taken by value from the body of the commodity, 
into the body of the gold, is, as I have elsewhere called it, the 
salto mortale of the commodity. If it falls short, then, al 
though the commodity itself is not harmed, its owner decidedly 
is. The social division of labour cajis_es_bis_Jabau,rJoJ)e as one 
sided as his wants are many-sided. This is precisely the reason 
why the product of his labour serves him solely as exchange 
value. But it cannot acquire the properties of a socially recog 
nised universal equivalent, except by being converted into 
money. That money, however, is in some one else s pocket. In 
order to entice the money out of that pocket, our friend s com 
modity must, above all things, be a use-value to the owner of the 
money. For this, it is necessary that the labour expended upon 
it, be of a kind that is socially useful, of a kind that constitutes 
a branch of the social division of labour. But division of labour 
is a system of production which has grown up spontaneously 
and continues to grow behind the backs of the producers. The 
commodity to be exchanged may possibly be the product of 
some new kind of labour, that pretends to satisfy newly arisen 
requirements, or even to give rise itself to new requirements. A 
particular operation, though yesterday, perhaps, forming one 
out of the many operations conducted by one producer in creat 
ing a given commodity, may to-day separate itself from this 
connection, may establish itself as an independent branch of 
labour and send its incomplete product to market as an inde 
pendent commodity. The circumstances may or may not be ripe 
for such a separation. To-day the product satisfies a social 
want. To-morrow the article may, either altogether or partial 
ly, be superseded by some other appropriate product. Moreover, 
although our weaver s labour may be a recognised branch of 

I2O Capitalist Pr&duttien. 

the social division of labour, yet that fact is by no meand suffi 
cient to guarantee the utility of his 20 yardc, of linen. If the 
community s want of linen, and such a want has a limit like 
every other want, should already be saturated by the products 
of rival weavers, our friend s product is superfluous, redundant, 
and consequently useless. Although people do not look a gift- 
horse in the mouth, our friend does not frequent the market for 
the purpose of making presents. But suppose his product turn 
out a real use-value, and thereby attracts money ? The question 
arises, how much will it attract ? No doubt the answer is al 
ready anticipated in the price of the article, in the exponent cf 
the magnitude of its value. We leave out of consideration heie 
any accidental miscalculation of value by our friend, a mistake 
that is soon rectified in the market. We suppose him to have 
spent on his product only that amount of labour-time that is on 
an average socially necessary The price then, is merely the 
money-name of the quantity of social labour realised in his 
commodity. But without the leave, and behind the back, of our 
weaver, the old fashioned mode of weaving undergoes a change. 
The labour-time that yesterday was without doubt socially nec 
essary to the production of a yard of linen, ceases to be so tc- 
day, a fact which the owner of the money is only too eager t) 
prove from the prices quoted by our friend s competitors. Un 
luckily for him, weavers are not few and far between. Lastly, 
suppose that every piece of linen in the market contains no 
more labour-time than is socially necessary. In spite of this, 
all these pieces taken as a whole, may have had superfluous 
labour-time spent upon them. If the market cannot stomach 
the whole quantity at the normal price of 2 shillings a yard, 
this proves that too great a portion of the total labour of the 
community has been expended in the form of weaving. The 
effect is the same as if each individual weaver had expendec 
more labour-time upon his particular product than is socially 
necessary. Here we may say, with the German proverb: 
caught together, hung together. All the linen in the market 
counts but as one article of commerce, of which each piece is 
only an aliquot part. And as a matter of fact, the value also of 
each single yard is but the materialised form of the same def- 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 121 

inite and socially fixed quantity of homogeneous human labour. 

We see then, commodities are in love with money, but "the 
course of true love never did run smooth." The quantitative 
division of labour is brought about in exactly the same spon 
taneous and accidental manner as its qualitative division. The 
owners of commodities therefore find out, that the same divi 
sion of labour that turns them into independent private pro 
ducers, also frees the social process of production and the 
relations of the individual producers to each other within that 
process, from all dependence on the will of those producers, 
and that the seeming mutual independence of the individuals 
is supplemented by a system of general and mutual dependence 
through or by means of the products. 

The division of labour converts the product of labour into a 
commodity, and thereby makes necessary its further conversion 
into money. At the same time it also makes the accomplish 
ment of this trans-substantiation quite accidental. Here, how 
ever, we are only concerned with the phenomenon in its 
integrity, and we therefore assume its progress to be normal. 
Moreover, if the conversion take place at all, that is, if the 
commodity be not absolutely unsaleable, its metamorphosis 
does take place although the price realised may be abnormally 
above or below the value. 

The seller has his commodity replaced by gold, the buyer 
has his gold replaced by a commodity. The fact which here 
stares us in the face is, that a commodity and gold, 20 yards 
of linen and 2, have changed hands and places, in other words, 
that they have been exchanged. But for what is the com 
modity exchanged ? For the shape assumed by its own value, 
for the universal equivalent. And for what is the gold 
exchanged? For a particular form of its own use-value. 
Why does gold take the form of money face to face with the 
linen ? Because the linen s price of 2, its denomination in 
money, has already equated the linen to gold in its character 
of money. A commodity strips off its original commodity-form 
on being alienated, i.e., on the instant its use-value actually 
attracts the gold, that before existed only ideally in its price. 
The realisation of a commodity s price, or of its ideal value- 

122 Capitalist Production. 

form, is therefore at the same time the realisation of the ideal 
use-value of money; the conversion of a commodity into 
money, is the simultaneous conversion of money into a com 
modity. The apparently single process is in reality a double 
one. From the pole of the commodity owner it is a sale, from 
the opposite pole of the money owner, it is a purchase. In 
other words, a sale is a purchase, C M is also M C. 1 

Up to this point we have considered men in only one econom 
ical capacity, that of owners of commodities, a capacity in 
which they appropriate the produce of the labour of others, by 
alienating that of their own labour. Hence, for one commodity 
owner to meet with another who has money, it is .necessary, 
either, that the product of the labour of the latter person, the 
buyer, should be in itself money, should be gold, the material 
of which money consists, or that his product should already 
have changed its skin and have stripped off its original form 
of a useful object In order that it may play the part of 
money, gold must of course enter the market at some point or 
other. This point is to be found at the source of production 
of the metal, at which place gold is bartered, as the immediate 
product of labour, for some other product of equal value. 
Prom. that moment it always represents the realised price of 
some commodity. 2 Apart from its exchange for other com 
modities at the source of its production, gold, in whose-so-ever 
hands it may be, is the transformed shape of some commodity 
alienated by its owner ; it is the product of a sale or of the first 
metamorphosis C M. 3 Gold, as we saw, became ideal money, 
or a measure of values, in consequence of all commodities 
measuring their values by it, and thus contrasting it ideally 
with their natural shape as useful objects, and making it the 
shape of their value. It became real money, by the general 
alienation of commodities, by actually changing places with 
their natural forms as useful objects, and thus becoming in 

1 " Toute vente est achat." (Dr. Quesnay: "Dialogues sur le Commerce et les 
Travaux des Artisans." Physiocrates ed. Daire I. Partie, Paris, 1846, p. 170), or 
as Quesnay in his "Maximes gdndrales" puts it, "Vendre est acheter." 

* "Le prix d une marchandise ne pouvant etre paye que par le prix d une autre 
marchandise." (Mercier de la Riviere: "L Ordre natural et essentiel des societes 
politiques." Physiocrates, ed. Daire II. Partie, p. 554.) 

1 "Pour avoir cet argent, il faut avoir vendu," 1. c., p. 543. 


Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 123 

reality the embodiment of their values. When they assume this 
money-shape, commodities strip off every trace of their natural 
use-value, and of the particular kind of labour to which they 
owe their creation, in order to transform themselves into the 
uniform, socially recognised incarnation of homogeneous hu 
man labour. We cannot tell from the mere look of a piece of 
money, for what particular commodity it has been exchanged. 
Under their money-form all commodities look alike. Hence, 
money may be dirt, although dirt is not money. We will 
assume that the two gold pieces, in consideration of which our 
weaver has parted with his linen, are the metamorphosed shape 
of a quarter of wheat The sale of the linen, C M, is at the 
same time its purchase, M C. But the sale is the first act of 
a process that ends with a transaction of an opposite nature, 
namely, the purchase of a Bible ; the purchase of the linen, on 
the other hand, ends a movement that began with a transac 
tion of an opposite nature, namely, with the sale of the wheat, 
O M (linen money), which is the first phase of C M C 
(linen money Bible), is also M C (money linen), the 
last phase of another movement C M C (wheat money 
linen). The first metamorphosis of one commodity, its trans 
formation from a commodity into money, is therefore also in 
variably the second metamorphosis of some other commodity, 
the retransformation of the latter from money into a com 
modity. 1 

M G , or purchase. The second and concluding metamor 
phosis of a commodity. 

Because money is the metamorphosed shape of all other 
commodities, the result of their general alienation, for this 
reason it is alienable itself without restriction or condition. 
It reads all prices backwards, and thus, so to say, depicts itself 
in the bodies of all other commodities, which offer to it the 
material for the realisation of its own use-value. At the same 
time the prices, wooing glances cast at money by commodities, 

1 As before remarked, the actual producer of gold or silver forms an exception. 
He exchanges his product directly for another commodity, without having first sold 

124 Capitalist Production. 

define tLe limits of its convertibility, by pointing to its quan 
tity. Since every commodity, on becoming money, disappears 
as a commodity, it is impossible to tell from the money itself, 
how it got into the hands of its possessor, or what article has 
been changed into it. Non olet, from whatever source it may 
come. Representing on the other hand a sold commodity, it 
represents on the other hand a commodity to be bought. 1 

M C, a purchase, is, at the same time, C M, a sale ; the 
concluding metamorphosis of one commodity is the first meta 
morphosis of another. With regard to our weaver, the life of 
his commodity ends with the Bible, into which he has recon 
verted his 2. But suppose the seller of the Bible turns the 2 
set free by the weaver into brandy. M C, the concluding 
phase of C M C (linen, money, Bible), is also C M, the 
first phase of C M C (Bible, money, brandy). The pro 
ducer of a particular commodity has that one article alone to 
offer ; this he sells very often in large quantities, but his many 
and various wants compel him to split up the price realised, the 
sum of money set free, into numerous purchases. Hence a sale 
leads to many purchases of various articles. The concluding 
metamorphosis of a commodity thus constitutes an aggregation 
of first metamorphoses of various other commodities. 

If we now consider the completed metamorphosis of a com 
modity, as a whole, it appears in the first place, that it is made 
up of two opposite and complementary movements, C M and 
M C. These two antithetical transmutations of a commodity 
are brought about by two antithetical social acts on the part 
of the owner, and these acts in their turn stamp the character 
of the economical parts played by him. As the person who 
makes a sale, he is a seller; as the person who makes a pur 
chase, he is a buyer. But just as, upon every such transmu 
tation of a commodity, its two forms, commodity-form and 
money-form, exist simultaneously but at opposite poles, so 
every seller has a buyer opposed to him, and every buyer a 
seller. While one particular commodity is going through its 

" Si 1 argent represente, dans nos mains, les choses quc nous pouvons desirer 
d acheter, il y represente aussi les choses que nous avons vendues pour cet argent." 
(Mercier de la Riviere I. c.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 125 

two transmutations in succession, from a commodity into 
money and from money into another commodity, the owner of 
the commodity changes in succession his part from that of 
seller to that of buyer. These characters of seller and buyer 
are therefore not permanent, but attach themselves in turns to 
the various persons engaged in the circulation of commodities. 

The complete metamorphosis of a commodity, in its simplest 
form, implies four extremes, and three dramatis personse. 
First, a commodity comes face to face with money ; the latter 
is the form taken by the value of the former, and exists in all 
its hard reality, in the pocket of the buyer. A commodity- 
owner is thus brought into contact with a possessor of money. 
So soon, now, as the commodity has been changed into 
money, the money becomes its transient equivalent-form, the 
use-value of which equivalent-form is to be found in the 
bodies of other commodities. Money, the final term of the 
first transmutation, is at the same time the starting point for 
the second. The person who is a seller in the first transac 
tion thus becomes a buyer in the second, in which a third 
commodity-owner appears on the scene as a seller. 1 

The two phases, each inverse to the other, that make up the 
metamorphosis of a commodity constitute together a circular 
movement, a circuit: commodity-form, stripping off of this 
form, and return to the commodity-form. No doubt, the com 
modity appears here under two different aspects. At the start 
ing point it is not a use-value to its owner; at the finishing 
point it is. So, too, the money appears in the first phase as a 
solid crystal of value, a crystal into which the commodity 
eagerly solidifies, and in the second, dissolves into the mere 
transient equivalent-form destined to be replaced by a use- 

The two metamorphoses constituting the circuit are at the 
same time two inverse partial metamorphoses of two other 
commodities. One and the same commodity, the linen, opens 
the series of its own metamorphoses, and completes the meta 
morphosis of another (the wheat). In the first phase or sale, 

1 "I1 y a done . . . quatre termes t trols contractanta, dont Tun Intervicnt deux 
fois." (Le Trowie 1. c. p. 900.) 

126 Capitalist Production. 

the linen plays these two parts in its own person. But, then, 
changed into gold, it completes its own second and final meta 
morphosis, and helps at the same time to accomplish the first 
metamorphosis of a third commodity. Hence the circuit made 
Dy one commodity in the course of its metamorphoses is inextri 
cably mixed up with the circuits of other commodities. The 
total of all the different circuits constitutes the circulation of 

The circulation of commodities differs from the direct ex 
change of products (barter), not only in form, but in substance. 
Only consider the course of events. The weaver has, as a 
matter of fact, exchanged his linen for a Bible, his own com 
modity for that of some one else. But this is true only so far 
as he himself is concerned. The seller of the Bible, who pre 
fers something to warm his inside, no more thought of exchang 
ing his Bible for linen than our weaver knew that wheat had 
been exchanged for his linen. B s commodity replaces that of 
A, but A and B do not mutually exchange those commodities. 
It may, of course, happen that A and B make simultaneous 
purchases, the one from the other ; but such exceptional trans 
actions are by no means the necessary result of the general con 
ditions of the circulation of commodities. We see here, on 
the one hand, how the exchange of commodities breaks through 
all local and personal bounds inseparable from direct barter, 
and develops the circulation of the products of social labor; 
and on the other hand, how it develops a whole network of so 
cial relations spontaneous in their growth and entirely beyond 
the control of the actors. It is only because the farmer has 
sold his wheat that the weaver is enabled to sell his linen, only 
because the weaver has sold his- linen that our Hotspur is 
enabled to sell his Bible, and only because the latter has sold 
the water of everlasting life that the distiller is enabled to sell 
his eau-de-me, and so on. 

The process of circulation, therefore, does not, like direct 
barter of products, become extinguished upon the use values 
changing places and hands. The money does not vanish on 
dropping out of the circuit of the metamorphosis of a given 
commodity. It is constantly being precipitated into new 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 127 

places in the arena of circulation vacated by other commodities. 
In the complete metamorphosis of the linen, for example, linen 
money Bible, the linen first falls out of circulation, and 
money steps into its place. Then the Bible falls out of circula 
tion, and again money takes its place. When one commodity 
replaces another, the money commodity always sticks to the 
hands of some third person. 1 Circulation sweats money from 
every pore. 

Nothing can be more childish than the dogma, that because 
every sale is a purchase, and every purchase a sale, therefore 
the circulation of commodities necessarily implies an equili 
brium of sales and purchases. If this means that the number 
of actual sales is equal to the number of purchases, it is mere 
tautology. But its real purport is to prove that every seller 
brings his buyer to market with him. Nothing of the kind. 
The sale and the purchase constitute one identical act, an 
exchange between a commodity-owned and an owner of money, 
between two persons as .opposed to each other as the two poles 
of a magnet. They form two distinct acts, of polar and oppo 
site characters, when performed by one single person. Hence 
the identity of sale and purchase implies that the commodity 
is useless, if, on being thrown into the alchemistical retort of 
circulation, it does not come out again in the shape of money ; 
if, in other words, it cannot be sold by its owner, and there 
fore be bought by the owner of the money That identity fur 
ther implies that the exchange, if it does take place, constitutes 
a period of rest, an interval, long or short, in the life of the 
commodity. Since the first metamorphosis of a commodity is 
at once a sale and a purchase, it is also an independent process 
in itself. The purchaser has the commodity, the seller has the 
money, i.e., a commodity ready to go into circulation at any 
time. No one can sell unless some one else purchases. But 
no one is forthwith bound to purchase, because he has just sold. 
Circulation bursts through all restrictions as to time, place, 
and individuals, imposed by direct barter, and this it effects by 
splitting up, into the antithesis of a sale and a purchase, the 

1 Self-evident as this may be, it is nevertheless for the most part unobserved by 
political economists, and especially by the " Freetrader Vulgaris." 

128 Capitalist Production. 

direct identity that in barter does exist between the alienation 
of one s own and the acquisition of some other man s product. 
To say that these two independent and antithetical acts have 
an intrinsic unity, are essentially one, is the same as to say 
that this intrinsic oneness expresses itself in an external 
antithesis. If the interval in time between the two comple 
mentary phases of the complete metamorphosis of a commodity 
becomes too great, if the split between the sale and the purchase 
becomes too pronounced, the intimate connexion between them, 
their oneness, asserts itself by producing a crisis. The 
antithesis, use-value and value ; the contradictions that priva ;e 
labour is bound to manifest itself as direct social labour, that a 
particularized concrete kind of labour has to pass for abstract 
human labour; the contradiction between the personification 
of objects and the representation of persons by things ; all thee 
antitheses and contradictions, which are immanent in com 
modities, assert themselves, and develop their modes of motion, 
in the antithetical phases of the metamorphosis of a commod 
ity. These modes therefore imply the possibility, and no more 
than the possibility, of crisis. The conversion of this mere 
possibility into a reality is the result of a long series of rela 
tions, that, from our present standpoint of simple circulation, 
have as yet no existence. 1 

b. Tlie currency 2 of m-oney. 

The change of form, C M C, by which the circulation c f 
the material products of labour is brought about, requires th^t 

1 Sec my observations on James Mill in "Critique, &c.," p. 123-125. With regard 
to this subject, we may notice two methods characteristic of apologetic economy. 
The first is the identification of the circulation of commodities with the direct bar 
ter of products, by simple abstraction from their points of difference; the second h, 
the attempt to explain away the contradictions of capitalist production, by reducirg 
the relations between the persons engaged in that mode of production, to the simp e 
relations arising out of the circulation of commodities. The production and circula 
tion of commodities are, however, phenomena that occur to a greater or less exter t 
in modes of production the most diverse. If we are acquain*ed with nothing bv t 
the abstract categories of circulation, which are common to all these modes of pro 
duction, we cannot possibly know anything of the specific points of difference cf 
those modes, nor pronounce any judgment upon them. In no science Is such a b ; g 
fuss made with commonplace truisms as in political economy. For instance, J. K 
Say sets himself up as a Judge of crises, because, forsooth, he knows that a con - " 
modity is a product. 

Translator s note. This word is here used in its original signification of tbt 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 129 

a given value in the shape of a commodity shall begin the pro 
cess, and shall, also in the shape of a commodity, end it. The 
movement of the commodity is therefore a circuit. On the 
other hand, the form of this movement precludes a circuit from 
being made by the money. The result is not the return of the 
money, but its continued removal further and further away 
from its starting-point. So long as the seller sticks fast to his 
money, which is the transformed shape of his commodity, that 
commodity is still in the first phase of its metamorphosis, and 
has completed only half its course. But so soon as he com 
pletes the process, so soon as he supplements his sale by a pur 
chase, the money again leaves the hands of its possessor. It 
is true that if the weaver, after buying the Bible, sells more 
linen, money comes back into his hands. But this return is not 
owing to the circulation of the first 20 yards of linen ; that cir 
culation resulted in the money getting into the hands of the 
seller of the Bible. The return of money into the hands of the 
weaver is brought about only by the renewal or repetition of 
the process of circulation with a fresh commodity, which 
renewed process ends with the same result as its predecessor 
did. Hence the movement directly imparted to money by the 
circulation of commodities takes the form of a constant motion 
away from its starting point, of course from the hands of one 
commodity owner into those of another. This course consti 
tutes its currency (cours de la monnaie). 

The currency of money is the constant and monotonous re 
petition of the same process. The commodity is always in the 
hands of the seller ; the money, as a means of purchase, always 
in the hands of the buyer. And money serves as a means of 
purchase by realising the price of the commodity. This reali 
sation transfers the commodity from the seller to the buyer, 
and removes the money from the hands of the buyer into those 
of the seller, where it again goes through the same process with 
another commodity That this one-sided character of the 
moneys motion arises out of the two-sided character of the 
commodity s motion, is a circumstance that is veiled over. 

course or track pursued by money as it changes from hand to hand, a cours* which 
essentially differs from circulation. 


130 Capitalist Production. 

The very nature of the circulation of commodities begets the op 
posite appearance. The first metamorphosis of a commodity is 
visibly, not only the money s movement, but also that of the 
commodity itself; in the second metamorphosis, on the con 
trary, the movement appears to us as the movement of the 
money alone. In the first phase of its circulation the com 
modity changes place with the money. Thereupon the com 
modity, under its aspect of a useful object, falls out of 
circulation into consumption. 1 In its stead we have its value- 
shape the money. It then goes through the second phase of 
its circulation, not under its own natural shape, but under the 
shape of money. The continuity of the movement is therefore 
kept up by the money alone, and the same movement that as 
regards the commodity consists of two processes of an anti 
thetical character, is, when considered as the movement of 
the money, always one and the same process, a continued 
change of places with ever fresh commodities. Hence the 
result brought about by the circulation of commodities, namely, 
the replacing of one commodity by another, takes the appear 
ance of having been effected not by means of the change of 
form of the commodities, but rather by the money acting as a 
medium of circulation, by an action that circulates commodi 
ties, to all appearance motionless in themselves, and transfers 
them from hands in which they are non-use-values, to hands in 
which they are use-values; and that in a direction constantly 
opposed to the direction of the money. The latter is con 
tinually withdrawing commodities from circulation and step 
ping into their places, and in this way continually moving 
further and further from its starting-point. Hence, although 
the movement of the money is merely the expression of 
the circulation of commodities, yet the contrary appears to be 
the actual fact, and the circulation of commodities seems to be 
the result of the movement of the money. 2 

1 Even when the commodity is sold over mnd over again, a phenomenon that a* 
present has no existence for us, it falls, when definitely sold for the last time, out 
of the sphere of circulation into that of consumption, where it serves either at 
means of subsistence or means of production. 

" II (1 argent) n a d autre mouvement que celui qui lui est iraprimi per ! pro- 
(faction*," (La Troane Lc.p. 8860 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 

Again, money functions as a means of circulation, only 
because in it the values of commodities have independent 
reality. Hence its movement, as the medium of circulation, is, 
in fact, merely the movement of commodities while changing 
their forms. This fact must therefore make itself plainly vis 
ible in the currency of money. The twofold change of form in 
a commodity is reflected in the twice repeated change of place 
of the same piece of money during the complete metamorphosis 
of a commodity, and in its constantly repeated change of place, 
as metamorphosis follows metamorphosis, and each becomes 
interlaced with the others. 

The linen, for instance, first of all exchanges its commodity- 
form for its money-form. The last term of its first metamor 
phosis (C M), or the money-form, is the first term of its final 
metamorphosis (M C), of its re-conversion into a useful 
commodity, the Bible. But each of these changes of form is 
accomplished by an exchange between commodity and money, 
by their reciprocal displacement. The same pieces of coin, in 
the first act, changed places with the linen, in the second, with 
the Bible. They are displaced twice. The first metamorpho 
sis puts them into the weaver s pocket, the second draws them 
out of it The two inverse changes undergone by the same 
commodity are reflected in the displacement, twice repeated, 
but in opposite directions, of the same pieces of coin. 

If, on the contrary, only one phase of the metamorphosis is 
gone through, if there are only sales or only purchases, then a 
given piece of money changes its place only once. Its second 
change corresponds to and expresses the second metamorphosis 
of the commodity, its re-conversion from money into another 
commodity intended for use. It is a matter of course, that all 
this is applicable to the simple circulation of commodities 
alone, the only form that we are now considering. 

Every commodity, when it first steps into circulation, and 
undergoes its first change of form, does so only to fall out of 
circulation again and to be replaced by other commodities. 
Money, on the contrary, as the medium of circulation, keeps 
continually within the sphere of circulation, and moves about 

132 Capitalist Production. 

in it. The ijuostion therefore arises,, how much money this 
sphere constantly absorbs ? 

In a given country there take place every day at the same 
time, but in different localities, numerous one-sided metamor 
phoses of commodities, or, in other words, numerous sales and 
numerous purchases. The commodities are equated before- 
hand in imagination, by their prices, to definite quantities of 
money. And since, in the form of circulation now under con 
sideration, money and commodities always come bodily face to 
face, one at the positive pole of purchase, the other at the 
negative pole of sale, it is clear that the amount of the means 
of circulation required, is determined beforehand by the sum of 
the prices of all these commodities. As a matter of fact, the 
money in reality represents the quantity or sum of gold ideally- 
expressed beforehand by the sum of the prices of the com 
modities. The equality of these two sums is therefore self- 
evident. We know, however, that, the values of commodities 
remaining constant, their prices vary with the value of gold 
(the material of money), rising in proportion as it falls, anl 
falling in proportion as it rises. Now if, in consequence of 
such a rise or fall in the value of gold, the sum of the prices of 
commodities fall or rise, the quantity of money in currency 
must fall or rise to the same extent. The change in the 
quantity of the circulating medium is, in this case, it is true, 
caused by money itself, yet not in virtue of its functioi 
as a medium of circulation, but of its function as a measure of 
value. First, the price of the commodities varies inversely 
as the value of the money, and then the quantity of the 
medium of circulation varies directly as the price of the 
commodities. Exactly the same thing would happen if, for 
instance, instead of the value of gold falling, gold were re 
placed by silver as the measure of value, or if, instead of the 
value of silver rising, gold were to thrust silver out from bein* 
the measure of value. In the one case, more silver would be 
current than gold was before; in the other case, less gold 
would be current than silver was before. In each case the 
Talue of the material of money, i.e., the value of the com-. 
Jbodity that serves as the measure of value, would have undei- 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 133 

gone a change, and therefore, so, too, would the prices of com 
modities which express their values in money, and so, too, 
would the quantity of money current whose function it is to 
realise those prices. We have already seen, that the sphere of 
circulation has an opening through which gold (or the material 
of money generally) enters into it as a commodity with a given 
value. Hence, when money enters on its functions as a 
measure of value, when it expresses prices, its value is already 
determined. If now its value fall, this fact is first evidenced 
by a change in the prices of those commodities that are 
directly bartered for the precious metals at the sources of 
their production. The greater part of all other commodities, 
especially in the imperfectly developed stages of civil society, 
will continue for a long time to be estimated by the former 
antiquated and illusory value of the measure of value. 
Nevertheless, one commodity infects another through their 
common value-relation, so that their prices, expressed in gold 
or in silver, gradually settle down into the proportions deter 
mined by their comparative values, until finally the values of 
all commodities are estimated in terms of the new value of the 
metal that constitutes money. This process is accompanied by 
the continued increase in the quantity of the precious metals, 
an increase caused by their streaming in to replace the articles 
directly bartered for them at their sources of production. In 
proportion therefore as commodities in general acquire their 
true prices, in proportion as their values become estimated 
according to the fallen value of the precious metal, in the 
same proportion the quantity of that metal necessary for realis 
ing those new prices is provided beforehand. A one-sided 
observation of the results that followed upon the discovery of 
fresh supplies of gold and silver, led some economists in the 
17th, and particularly in the 18th century, to the false con 
clusion, that the prices of commodities had gone up in conse 
quence of the increased quantity of gold and silver serving as 
means of circulation. Henceforth we shall consider the value 
of gold to be given, as, in fact, it is momentarily whenever we 
estimate the price of a commodity. 

On this supposition then, the quantity of the medium of 

134 Capitalist Production. 

circulation is determined by the sum of the prices that have to 
be realised. *. If now we further suppose the price of each com 
modity to be given, the sum of the prices clearly depends on 
the mass of commodities in circulation. It requires but little 
racking of brains to comprehend that if one quarter of wheat 
cost 2, 100 quarters will cost 200, 200 quarters 400, and 
so on, that consequently the quantity of money that changes 
place with the wheat, when sold, must increase with the quan 
tity of that wheat 

If the mass of commodities remain constant, the quantity of 
circulating money varies with the fluctuations in the prices ol! 
those commodities. It increases and diminishes because the; 
sum of the prices increases or diminishes in consequence of the* 
change of price. To produce this effect, it is by no meam> 
requisite that the prices of all commodities should rise or fal 
simultaneously. A rise or a fall in the prices of a number of 
leading articles, is sufficient in the one case to increase, in the 
other to diminish, the sum of the prices of all commodities 
and, therefore, to put more or less money in circulation. 
Whether the change in the price correspond to an actua! 
change of value in the commodities, or whether it be the result 
of mere fluctuations in market prices, the effect on the quan 
tity of the medium of circulation remains the same. 

Suppose the following articles to be sold or partially meta 
morphosed simultaneously in different localities: say, one 
quarter of wheat, 20 yards of linen, one Bible, and 4 gallons oi 
brandy. If the price of each article be 2, and the sum of the 
prices to be realised be consequently 8, it follows that 8 ID 
money must go into circulation. If, on the other hand, these 
same articles are links in the following chain of metamor 
phoses: 1 quarter of wheat 2 20 yards of linen 2 1 
Bible 2 4 gallons of brandy 2, a chain that is already 
well-known to us, in that case the 2 cause the different com 
modities to circulate one after the other, and after realizing 
their prices successively, and therefore the sum of those prices, 
8, they come to rest at last in the pocket of the distiller. 
The 2 thus make four moves. This repeated change of place 
of the same pieces of money corresponds to the double change 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 135 

in form of the commodities, to their motion in opposite direc 
tions through two stages of circulation, and to the interlacing 
of the metamorphoses of different commodities. 1 These anti 
thetic and complementary phases, of which the process of met 
amorphosis consists, are gone through, not simultaneously, but 
successively. Time is therefore required for the completion of 
the series. Hence the velocity of the currency of money is 
measured by the number of moves made by a given piece of 
money in a given time. Suppose the circulation of the 4 ar 
ticles takes a day. The sum of the prices to be realised in the 
day is 8, the number of moves of the two pieces of money is 
four, and the quantity of money circulating is 2. Hence, for 
a given interval of time during the process of circulation, we 
have the following relation : the quantity of money functioning 
as the circulating medium is equal to the sum of the prices of 
the commodities divided by the number of moves made by coins 
of the same denomination. This law holds generally. 

The total circulation of commodities in a given country 
during a given period is made up on the one hand of numerous 
isolated and simultaneous partial metamorphoses, sales which 
are at the same time purchases, in which each coin changes its 
place only once, or makes only one move ; on the other hand, 
of numerous distinct series of metamorphoses partly running 
side by side, and partly coalescing with each other, in each of 
which series each coin makes a number of moves, the number 
being greater or less according to circumstances. The total 
number of moves made by all the circulating coins of one 
denomination being given, we can arrive at the average num 
ber of moves made by a single coin of that denomination, or at 
the average velocity of the currency of money. The quantity 
of money thrown into the circulation at the beginning of each 
day is of course determined by the sum of the prices of all the 
commodities circulating simultaneously side by side. But once 
in circulation, coins are, so to say, made responsible for one 
another. If the one increase its velocity, the other either 

1 " Ce sont les productions qui le (1 argent) mettent en mouvemcnt et le font 
circuler ... La celrit de son mouvement (sc. de 1 argent) supplee 4 sa quantiti. 
Lorsqu il en est besoin, il ne fait que glisser d une main dans 1 autre sans s arreter 
un instant." (Le Trosnc L c. pp. 916, 916.) 

136 Capitalist Production. 

retards its own, or altogether falls out of circulation ; for the 
circulation can absorb only such a quantity of gold as when 
multiplied by the mean number of moves made by one single 
coin or element, is equal to the sum of the prices to be real 
ised. Hence if the number of moves made by the separate 
pieces increase, the total number of those pieces in circulation 
diminishes. If the number of the moves diminish, the total 
number of pieces increases. Since the quantity of money cap 
able of being absorbed by the circulation is given for a given 
mean velocity of currency, all that is necessary in order to ab 
stract a given number of sovereigns from the circulation is to 
throw the same number of one-pound notes into it, a trick well 
known to all bankers. 

Just as the currency of money, generally considered, is but 
a reflex of the circulation of commodities, or of the antithetical 
metamorphoses they undergo, so, too, the velocity of that cur 
rency reflects the rapidity with which commodities change 
their forms, the continued interlacing of one series of meta 
morphoses with- another, the hurried social interchange of 
matter, the rapid disappearance of commodities from the 
sphere of circulation, and the equally rapid substitution of 
fresh ones in their places. Hence, in the velocity of the cur 
rency we have the fluent unity of the antithetical and com 
plementary phases, the unity of the conversion of the useful 
aspect of commodities into their value-aspect, and their re-con 
version from the latter aspect to the former, or the unity of the 
two processes of sale and purchase. On the other hand, the 
retardation of the currency reflects the separation of these two 
processes into isolated antithetical phases, reflects the stagna 
tion in the change of form, and therefore, in the social inter 
change of matter. The circulation itself, of course, gives no 
clue to the origin of this stagnation ; it merely puts in evidence 
the phenomenon itself. The general public, who, simultane 
ously, with the retardation of the currency, see money appear 
and disappear less frequently at the periphery of circulation, 
naturally attribute this retardation to a quantitive deficiency 
in the circulating medium. 1 . 

1 Money being . . . the common measure of buying and selling, every body who 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 137 

The total quantity of money functioning during a given 
period as the circulating medium, is determined, on the one 
hand, by the sum of the prices of the circulating commodities, 
and on the other hand, by the rapidity with which the anti 
thetical phases of the metamorphoses follow one another. On 
this rapidity depends what proportion of the sum of the prices 
can, on the average, be realised by each single coin. But the 
sum of the prices of the circulating commodities depends on 
the quantity, as well as on the prices, of the commodities. 
TThese three factors, however, state of prices, quantity of circu 
lating commodities, and velocity of money-currency, are all 
variable. Hence, the sum of the prices to be realised, and 
consequently the quantity of the circulating medium depend 
ing on that sum, will vary with the numerous variations of 
these three factors in combination. Of these variations we 
shall consider those alone that have been the most important 
in the history of prices. 

While prices remain constant, the quantity of the circulat 
ing medium may increase owing to the number of circulating 
commodities increasing, or to the velocity of currency decreas 
ing, or to a combination of the two. On the other hand the 

hath anything to sell, and cannot procure chapmen for it, is presently apt to think, 
that want of money in the kingdom, or country, is the cause why his goods do not 
go off; and so, want of money is the common cry; which is a great mistake. . . 
What do these people want, who cry out for money ? . . . The farmer complains 
... he thinks that were more money in the country, he should have a price for his 
goods. Then it seems money is not his want, but a price for his corn and cattel, 
which he would sell, but cannot. . . Why cannot he get a price? ... (1) Either 
there is too much corn and cattel in the country, so that most who come to market 
have need of selling, as he hath, and few of buying; or (2) There wants the usual 
vent abroad by transportation. . . ; or (3) The consumption fails, as when men, 
by reason of poverty, do not spend so much in their houses as formerly they did; 
wherefore it is not the increase of specific money, which would at all advance the 
farmer s goods, but the removal f any of these three causes, which do truly keep 
down the market. . . . The merchant and shopkeeper want money in the same 
manner, that is, they want a vent for the goods they deal in, by reason that the 
markets fail "... [A nation] " never thrives better, than when riches are tost 
from hand to hand." (Sir Dudley North: " Discourses upon Trade," Lond. 1691, 
pp. 11-15, passim.) Herrenschwand s fanciful notions amount merely to this, that 
the antagonism, which has its origin in the nature of commodities, and is repro 
duced in their circulation, can be removed by increasing the circulating medium. 
But if, on the one hand, it is a popular delusion to ascribe stagnation in production 
and circulation to insufficiency of the circulating medium, it by no means follows, 
on the other hand, that an actual paucity of the medium in consequence, e.g., of 
bungling legislative interference with the regulation of currency, may not give rise 
to such stagnation. 

138 Capitalist Production. 

quantity of the circulating medium may decrease with a 
decreasing number of commodities, or with an increasing 
rapidity of their circulation. 

With a general rise in the prices of commodities, the quan 
tity of the circulating medium will remain constant, provided 
the number of commodities in the circulation decrease propor 
tionally to the increase in their prices, or provided the velocity 
of currency increase at the same rate as prices rise, the number 
of commodities in circulation remaining constant. The quan 
tity of the circulating medium may decrease, owing to the num 
ber of commodities decreasing more rapidly; or to the veloc 
ity of currency increasing more rapidly, than prices rise. 

With a general fall in the prices of commodities, the quantity 
of the circulating medium will remain constant, provided the 
number of commodities increase proportionately to their fall in 
price, or provided the velocity of currency decrease in the same 
proportion. The quantity of the circulating medium will 
increase, provided the number of commodities increase quicker, 
or the rapidity of circulation decrease quicker, than the prices 

The variations of the different factors may mutually compen 
sate each other, so that notwithstanding their continued in 
stability, the sum of the prices to be realised and the quantity 
of money in circulation remains constant; consequently, we 
find, especially if we take long periods into consideration, that 
the deviations from the average level, of the quantity of money 
current in any country, are much smaller than we should at 
first sight expect, apart of course from excessive perturbations 
periodically arising from industrial and commercial crises, or, 
less frequently, from fluctuations in the value of money. 

The law, that the quantity of the circulating medium is 
determined by the sum of the prices of the commodities 
circulating, and the average velocity of currency 1 may also be 

1 " There is a certain measure and proportion of money requisite to drive the 
trade of a nation, more or less than which would prejudice the same. Just as there 
is a certain proportion of farthings necessary in a small retail trade, to change sil 
ver money, and to even such reckonings as cannot be adjusted with the smallest 
silver pieces. . . . Now, as the proportion of the number of farthings requisite 
in commerce is to be taken from the number of people, the frequency of their 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 139 

stated as follows : given the sum of the values of commodities, 
and the average rapidity of their metamorphoses, the quantity 
of precious metal current as money depends on the value of 
that precious metal. The erroneous opinion that it is, on the 
contrary, prices that are determined by the quantity of the 
circulating medium, and that the latter depends on the : 
quantity of the precious metals in a country ;* this opinion was i 
based by those who first beheld it, on the absurd hypothesis that 
commodities are without a price, and money without a value, 
when they first enter into circulation, and that, once in the 
circulation, an aliquot part of the medley of commodities is 
exchanged for an aliquot part of the heap of precious metals. 3 

exchanges: as also, and principally, from the value of the smallest silver pieces of 
money; so in like manner, the proportion of money [gold and silver specie] requis 
ite in our trade, is to be likewise taken from the frequency of commutations, nd 
from the bigness of the payments." (William Petty. " A Treatise on Taxes and 
Contributions." Lond. 1662, p. 17.) The Theory of Hume was defended against 
the attacks of J. Steuart and others, by A. Young, in his " Political Arithmetic," 
Lond. 1774, in which work there is a special chapter entitled " Prices depend on 
quantity of money," at p. 112, sqq. I have stated in "Critique, &c.," p. 232: 
" He (Adam Smith) passes over without remark the question as to the quantity 
of coin in circulation, and treats money quite wrongly as a mere commodity." 
This statement applies only in so far as Adam Smith, ex officio, treats of money. 
Now and then, however, as in his criticism of the earlier systems of political 
economy, he takes the right view. " The quantity of coin in every country is 
regulated by the value of the commodities which are to be circulated by it. ... 
The value of the goods annually bought and sold in any country requires a certain 
quantity of money to circulate and distribute them to their proper consumers, and 
can give employment to no more. The channel of circulation necessarily draws to 
itself a sum sufficient to fill it, and never admits any more." (" Wealth of Na 
tions." Bk. IV., ch. I.) In like manner, ex officio, he opens his work with an 
potheosis on the division of labour. Afterwards, in the last book which treats 
of the sources of public revenue, he occasionally repeats the denunciations of the 
division of labour made by his teacher, A. Ferguson. 

1 "The prices of things will certainly rise in every nation, as the gold and silver 
increase amongst the people; and consequently, where the gold and silver de 
crease in any nation, the prices of all things must fall proportionably to such 
decrease of money." (Jacob Vanderlint: "Money answers all Things." Lond. 
1734, p. 6.) A careful comparison of this book with Hume s "Essays," proves 
to my mind without doubt that Hume was acquainted with and made use of Van- 
derlint s work, which is certainly an important one. The opinion that prices are 
determined by the quantity of the circulating medium, was also held by Barbon 
and other much earlier writers. " No inconvenience," says Vanderlint, " can arise 
by an unrestrained trade, but very great advantage; since, if the cash of the na 
tion be decreased by it, which prohibitions are designed to prevent, those nations 
that get the cash will certainly find everything advance in price, as the cash in 
creases amongst them. And . . . our manufactures, and everything else, will 
soon become so moderate as to turn the balance of trade in our favour, and 
thereby fetch the money back again." (1. c., pp. 43, 44.) 

That the price of each single kind of commodity forms part of the sum of the 

140 Capitalist Production. 

c. Coin and symbols of value. 

That money takes the shape of coin, springs from its function 
as the circulating medium. The weight of gold represented in 
imagination by the prices or money-names of commodities, 
must confront those commodities, within the circulation, in 
the shape of coins or pieces of gold of a given denomination. 
Coining, like the establishment of a standard of prices, is the 
business of the State. The different national uniforms worn 
at home by gold and silver as coins, and doffed again in the 
market of the world, indicate the separation between the 
internal or national spheres of the circulation of commodities, 
and their universal sphere. 

The only difference, therefore, between coin and bullion, is 
one of shape, and gold can at any time pass from one form to 

prices of all the commodities in circulation, is a self-evident proposition. But hew 
use-values, which are incommensurable with regard to each other, are to be ex 
changed, en masse, for the total sum of gold and silver in a country, is quite 
incomprehensible. If we start from the notion that all commodities together form 
one single commodity, of which each is but an aliquot part, we get the followh g 
beautiful result: The total commodity = x cwt. of gold; commodity A = an aliqint 
part of the total commodity = the same aliquot part of x cwt. of gold. This is 
stated in all seriousness by Montesquieu: " Si Ton compare la masse de Tor et de 
1 argent qui est dans le monde avec la somme des marchandises qui y sont, il e?t 
certain que chaque denree ou marchandise, en particulier, pourra etre compare e a 
une certaine portion de le masse entiere. Supposons qu il n y ait qu une seu e 
denree ou marchandise dans le monde, ou qu il n y ait qu une seule qui s ache te, 
et qu elle se divise comme 1 argent: Cette partie de cette marchandise repondia 
a une partie de la masse de 1 argent; la moitie du total de 1 une a la moitie cu 
total de 1 autre, &c. . . . 1 etablissement du prix des choses depend toujoui s 
fondamentalement de la raison du total des choses au total des signes." (Montes 
quieu 1. c. t III., pp. 122, 13.) As to the further development of this theory 
by Ricardo and his disciples, James Mill, Lord Overstone, and others, ste 
"Critique of Political Economy," pp. 235, ff. John Stuart Mill, with his usual 
eclectic logic, understands how to hold at the same time the view of his fathe , 
James Mill, and the opposite view. On a comparison of the text of his compen 
dium, "Principles of Pol. Econ.," with his preface to the first edition, in which 
preface he announces himself as the Adam Smith of his day we do not kno v 
whether to admire more the simplicity of the man, or that of the public, who too< 
him, in good faith, for the Adam Smith he announced himself 4o be, althoug i 
he bears about as much resemblance to Adam Smith as say General Williams, of 
Kars, to the Duke of Wellington. The original researches of Mr. J. S. Mill, whic \ 
are neither extensive nor profound, in the domain of political economy, will be 
found mustered in rank and file in his little work, " Some Unsettled Questions of 
Political Economy," which appeared in 1844. Locke asserts point blank the con 
nexion between the absence of value in gold and silver, and the determination of 
their values by quantity alone, "Mankind having consented to put an imaginary 
value upon gold and silver . . . the intrinsik value, regarded in these metah, 
is nothing but the quantity." ("Some considerations," &c., 1691, Works Ed. 1777, 
vol. II.. p. 15.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 141 

the other. 1 But no sooner does coin leave the mint, than it 
immediately finds itself on the high-road to the melting pot. 
During their currency, coins wear away, some more, others 
less. Name and substance, nominal weight and real weight, 
begin their process of separation. Coins of the same denom 
ination become different in value, because they are different in 
weight. The weight of gold fixed upon as the standard of 
prices, deviates "from the weight that serves as the circulating 
medium, and the latter thereby ceases any longer to be a real 
equivalent of the commodities whose prices it realises. The 
history of coinage during the middle ages and down into the 
18th century, records the ever renewed confusion arising from 
this cause. The natural tendency of circulation to convert 
coins into a mere semblance of what they profess to be, into a 
symbol of the weight of metal they are officially supposed to 
contain, is recognised by modern legislation, which fixes the 
loss of weight sufficient to demonetise a gold coin, or to make 
it no longer legal tender. 

The fact that the currency of coins itself effects a separation 
between their nominal and their real weight, creating a dis 
tinction between them as mere pieces of metal on the one hand, 
and as coins with a definite function on the other this fact 
implies the latent possibility of replacing metallic coins by 
tokens of some other material, by symbols serving the same 
purposes as coins. The practical difficulties in the way of 
coining extremely minute quantities of gold or silver, and the 
circumstance that at first the less precious metal is used as a 
measure of value instead of the more precious, copper instead 

* It lies, of course, entirely beyond my purpose to take into consideration such 
details as the seigniorage on minting. I will, however, cite for the benefit of the 
romantic sycophant, Adam Muller, who admires the " generous liberality " with 
which the English Government coins gratuitously, the following opinion of Sir 
Dudley North: "Silver and gold, like other commodities, have their ebbings and 
flowings. Upon the arrival of quantities from Spain . . . it is carried into the 
Tower, and coined. Not long after there will come a demand for bullion to be 
exported again. If there is none, but all happens to be in coin, what then? Melt 
it down again ; there s no loss in it, for the coining costs the owner nothing. Thus 
the nation has been abused, and made to pay for the twisting of straw for asses 
to eat. If the merchant were made to pay the price of the coinage, he would 
not have sent his silver to the Tower without consideration; and coined money 
would always keep a value above uncoined silver." (North, 1. c., p. 18.) North 
was himself one of the foremost merchants in the reign of Charles II. 

142 Capitalist Production. 

of silver, silver instead of gold, and that the less precious 
circulates as money until dethroned by the more precious all 
these facts explain the parts historically played by silver and 
copper tokens as substitutes for gold coins. Silver and copper 
tokens take the place of gold in those regions of the circulation 
where coins pass from hand to hand most rapidly, and are sub 
ject to the maximum amount of wear and tear. This occurs 
where sales and purchases on a very small scale are continually 
happening. In order to prevent these satellites from establish 
ing themselves permanently in the place of gold, positive 
enactments determine the extent to which they must be com- 
pulsorily received as payment instead of gold. The particular 
tracks pursued by the different species of coin in currency, run 
naturally into each other. The tokens keep company with 
gold, to pay fractional parts of the smallest gold coin ; gold is, 
on the one hand, constantly pouring into retail circulation, and 
on the other hand is as constantly being thrown out again by 
being changed into tokens. 1 

The weight of metal in the silver and copper tokens is 
arbitrarily fixed by law. When in currency, they wear awaj 
even more rapidly than gold coins. Hence their functions 
are totally independent of their weight^ and consequently of all 
value. The function of gold as coin becomes completely inde 
pendent of the metallic value of that gold. Therefore things 
that are relatively without value, such as paper notes, can 
serve as coins in its place. This purely symbolic character is 
to a certain extent masked in metal tokens. In paper money 
it stands out plainly. In fact, ce n est oue le premier pas qui 

We allude here only to inconvertible paper money issued by 

1 If silver never exceed what is wanted for the smaller payments, it cannot be 
collected in sufficient quantities for the larger payments . . . the use ot gold in 
the main payments necessarily implies also its use in the retail trade: those who 
have gold coin offering them for small purchases, and receiving with the com 
modity purchased a balance of silver in return; by which means the surplus of 
silver that would otherwise encumber the retail dealer, is drawn off and dis 
persed into general circulation. But if there is as much silver as will transact 
the small payments independent of gold, the retail trader must then receive silver 
for small purchases; and it must of necessity accumulate in his hands." (David 
Buchanan. " Inquiry into the Taxation and Commercial Policy of Great Britain.** 
Edinburgh, 1844, pp. 848, 249.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. .43 

the State and having compulsory circulation. It has its 
immediate origin in the metallic currency. Money based upon 
credit implies on the other hand conditions, which from our 
standpoint of the simple circulation of commodities, are as yet 
totally unknown to us. But we may affirm this much, that 
just as true paper money takes its rise in the function of money 
as the circulating medium, so money based upon credit takes 
root spontaneously in the function of money as the means of 
payment. 1 

The State puts in circulation bits of paper on which their 
various denominations, say 1, 5, &c., are printed. In so far 
as they actually take the place of gold to the same amount, 
their movement is subject to the laws that regulate the currency 
of money itself. A law peculiar to the circulation of paper 
money can spring up only from the proportion in which that 
paper money represents gold. Such a law exists; stated 
simply, it is as follows: the issue of paper money must not 
exceed in amount the gold (or silver as the case may be) which 
would actually circulate if not replaced by symbols. Now the 
quantity of gold which the circulation can absorb, constantly 
fluctuates about a given level. Still, the mass of the circulat 
ing medium in a given country never sinks below a certain 
minimum easily ascertained by actual experience. The fact 
that this minimum mass continually undergoes changes in its 
constituent parts, or that the pieces of gold of which it consists 
are being constantly replaced by fresh ones, causes of course no 
change either in its amount or in the continuity of its circula- 

1 The mandarin Wan-mao-in, the Chinese Chancellor of the Exchequer, took it 
into his head one day to lay before the Son of Heaven a proposal that secretly 
aimed at converting the ass-gnats of the empire into convertible bank notes. The 
assignats Committee, in its report of April, 1854, gives him a severe snub 
bing. Whether he also received the traditional drubbing with bamboos is not 
stated. The concluding part of the report is as follows : " The Committee has 
carefully examined his proposal and finds that it is entirely in favour of the 
merchants, and that no advantage will result to the crown." (Arbeiten der 
Kaiserlich Russischen Gesandtschaft zu Peking uber China. Aus dem Russischen 
von Dr. K. Abel und F. A. Mecklenburg. Erster Band. Berlin, 1858, pp. 47, 59.) 
In his evidence before the Committee of the House of Lords on the Bank Acts, a 
governor of the Bank of England says with regard to the abrasion of gold coins dur 
ing currency: "Every year a fresh class of sovereigns becomes too light. The class 
which one year passes with full weight, loses enough by wear and tear to draw the 
calet next year against it." (House of Lords Committee, 1848, n. 429.) 

144 Capitalist Production. 

tion. It can thejefore be replaced by paper symbols. If, on 
the other hand, all the conduits of circulation were to-day filled 
with paper money to the full extent of their capacity for 
absorbing money, they might to-morrow be overflowing in 
consequence of a fluctuation in the circulation of commodities. 
There would no longer be any standard. If the paper money 
exceed its proper limit, which is the amount of gold coins of 
the like denomination that can actually be current, it would, 
apart from the danger of falling into general disrepute, re 
present only that quantity of gold, which, in accordance with 
the laws of the circulation of commodities, is required, and is 
alone capable of being represented by paper. If the quantity 
of paper money issued be double what it ought to be, then, as 
a matter of fact, 1 would be the money-name not of \ of an 
ounce, but of J of an ounce of gold. The effect would be the 
same as if an alteration had taken place in the function of gold 
as a standard of prices. Those values that were previously 
expressed by the price of 1 would now be expressed by the 
price of 2. 

Paper-money is a token representing gold or money. The 
relation between it and the values of commodities is this, that 
the latter are ideally expressed in the same quantities of gold 
that are symbolically represented by the paper. Only in so 
far as paper-money represents gold, which like all other com 
modities has value, is it a symbol of value. 1 

Finally, some one may ask why gold is capable of being 
replaced by tokens that have no value ? But, as we have 
already seen, it is capable of being so replaced only in so far 
as it functions exclusively as coin, or as the circulating 

1 The following passage from Fullarton shows the want of clearness on the part 
of even the best writers on money, in their comprehension of its various func 
tions: " That, as far as concerns our domestic exchanges, all the monetary func 
tions which are usually performed by gold and silver coins, may be performed as 
effectually by a circulation of inconvertible notes, having no value but that 
factitious and conventional value they derive from the law, is a fact which admits, 
I conceive, of no denial. Value of this description may be made to answer all the 
purposes of intrinsic value, and supersede even the necessity for a standard, pro 
vided only the quantity of issues be kept under due limitation." (Fullarton: 
"Regulation of Currencies," London, p. 210.) Because the commodity that 
serves as money is capable of being replaced in circulation by mere symboli of 
value, therefore its functions as a measure of value and a standard of prices art 
declared to be superfluous. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 145 

medium, and as nothing else. Now, money has other functions 
besides this one, and the isolated function of serving as the 
mere circulating medium is not necessarily the only one 
attached to gold coin, although this is the case with those 
abraded coins that continue to circulate. Each piece of money 
is a mere coin, or means of circulation, only so long as it ac 
tually circulates. But this is just the case with that minimum 
mass of gold, which is capable of being replaced by paper- 
money. That mass remains constantly within the sphere of 
circulation, continually functions as a circulating medium, and 
exists exclusively for that purpose. Its movement therefore 
represents nothing but the continued alteration of the inverse 
phases of the metamorphosis C M C, phases in which com 
modities confront their value-forms, only to disappear again 
immediately. The independent existence of the exchange 
value of a commodity is here a transient apparition, by means 
of which the commodity is immediately replaced by another 
commodity. Hence, in this process which continually makes 
money pass from hand to hand, the mere symbolical existence 
of money suffices. Its functional existence absorbs, so to say, 
its material existence. Being a transient and objective reflex 
of the prices of commodities, it serves only as a symbol of itself, 
and is therefore capable of being replaced by a token. 1 One 
thing is, however, requisite ; this token must have an objective 
social validity of its own, and this the paper symbol acquires 
by its forced currency. This compulsory action of the 
State can take effect only within that inner sphere of circula 
tion which is co-terminous with the territories of the com 
munity, but it is also only within that sphere that money 
completely responds to its function of being the circulating 
medium, or becomes coin. 

1 From the fact that gold and silver, so far as they are coins, or exclusively 
serve as the medium of circulation, become mere tokens of themselves, Nicholas 
Barbon deduces the right of Governments " to raise money," that is, to give to the 
weight of silver that is called a shilling the name of a greater weight, such as a 
crown; and so to pay creditors shillings, instead of crowns. " Money does wear 
and grow lighter by often telling over ... It is the denomination and cur 
rency of the money that men regard in bargaining, and not the quantity of silver 
. . . Tis the public authority upon the metal that makes it money." (N. 
Barbon, L c., pp. 29, 30, 25.) 

146 Capitalist Production. 


The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, 
either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium 
of circulation, is money. Gold (or silver) is therefore money. 
It functions as money, on the one hand, when it has to be 
present in its own golden person. It is then the money-com 
modity, neither merely ideal, as in its function of a measure 
of value, nor capable of being represented, as in its function of 
circulating medium. On the other hand, it also functions as 
money, when by virtue of its function, whether that function 
be performed in person or by representative, it congeals into the 
sole form of value, the only adequate form of existence of 
exchange-value, in opposition to use-value, represented by all 
other commodities, 

a. Hoarding. 

The continual movement in circuits of the two antithetical 
metamorphoses of commodities, or the never ceasing alternation 
of sale and purchase, is reflected in the restless currency of 
money, or in the function that money performs of a perpetuum 
mobile of circulation. But so soon as the series of metamor 
phoses is interrupted, so soon as sales are not supplemented by 
subsequent purchases, money ceases to be mobilised ; it is trans 
formed, as Boisguillebert says, from "meuble" into "im- 
meuble," from movable into immovable, from coin into 

With the very earliest development of the circulation of 
commodities, there is also developed the necessity, and the 
passionate desire, to hold fast the product of the first metamor 
phosis. This product is the transformed shape of the com 
modity, or its gold-chrysalis. 1 Commodities are thus sold not 
for the purpose of buying others, but in order to replace their 
commodity-form by their money-form. From being the mere 
means of effecting the circulation of commodities, this change 
of form becomes the end and aim. The changed form of the 
commodity is thus prevented from functioning as its uncondi- 

"Une richesse en argent n est que . . . richesse en productions, convertief 
en argent." (Mercier de la Riviere, 1. c.) "Une valeur en productions n f 
fait que changer de forme." (Id., p. 486.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 147 

tionally alienable form^ or as its merely transient money-form. 
The money becomes petrified into a hoard, and the seller 
becomes a hoarder of money. 

In the early stages of the circulation of commodities, it is 
the surplus use-values alone that are converted into money. 
Gold and silver thus become of themselves social expressions 
for superfluity or wealth. This naive form of hoarding be 
comes perpetuated in those communities in which the tra 
ditional mode of production is carried on for the supply of a 
fixed and limited circle of home wants. It is thus with the 
people of Asia, and particularly of the East Indies. Vander- 
lint, who fancies that the prices of commodities in a country 
are determined by the quantity of gold and silver to be found 
in it, asks himself why Indian commodities are so cheap. An 
swer: Because the Hindoos bury their money. From 1602 to 
1734, he remarks, they buried 150 millions of pounds sterling 
of silver, which originally came from America to Europe. 1 
In the 10 years from 1856 to 1866, England exported to India 
and China 120,000,000 in silver, which had been received in 
exchange for Australian gold. Most of the silver exported to 
China makes its way to India. 

As the production of commodities further develops, every 
producer of commodities is compelled to make sure of the 
nexus rerum of the social pledge. 2 His wants are constantly 
making themselves felt, and necessitate the continual purchase 
of other people s commodities, while the production and sale of 
his own goods require time, and depend upon circumstances. 
In order then to be able to buy without selling, he must have 
sold previously without buying. This operation, conducted 
on a general scale, appears to imply a contradiction. But the 
precious metals at the sources of their production are directly 
exchanged for other commodities. And here we have sales 
(by the owners of commodities) without purchases (by the 
owners of gold or silver.) 3 And subsequent sales, by other 

1 " Tis by this practice they keep all their goods and manufactures a> srch Ur 
rates." (Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 96.) 

Money ... is a pledge." (John Bellers: "Essays about the Poor, Manu/%* 
turers, Trade, Plantations, and Immorality," Lond., 1699, p. IS.) 

* A purchase, in a " categorical " tense, implies that gold and tilrer are alrwdy 
the converted form of commodities, or the product of a al. 

148 Capitalist Production. 

/reducers, unfollowed by purchases, merely bring about the 
distribution of the newly produced precious metals among all 
the owners of commodities. In this way, all along the line of 
exchange, hoards of gold and silver of varied extent are ac 
cumulated. With the possibility of holding and storing up 
exchange value in the shape of a particular commodity, arises 
also the greed for gold. Along with the extension of circula 
tion, increases the power of money, that absolutely social form 
of wealth ever ready for use. "Gold is a wonderful thing I 
Whoever possesses it is lord of all he wants. By means of 
gold one can even get souls into Paradise." (Columbus in his 
letter from Jamaica, 1503.) Since gold does not disclose what 
has been transformed into it, everything, commodity or not, 
is convertible into gold. Everything becomes saleable and 
buyable. The circulation becomes the great social retort into 
which everything is thrown, to come out again as a gold- 
crystal. Xot even are the bones of saints, and still less are 
more delicate res sacrosanctse extra commercium hominum 
able to withstand this alchemy. 1 Just as every qualitative 
difference between commodities is extinguished in money, so 
money, on its side, like the radical leveller that it is, does 
away with all distinctions. 2 But money iteelf is a commodity, 

1 Henry III., most Christian king of France, robbed cloisters of their relics, and 
turned them into money. It is well known what part the despoiling of the 
Delphic Temple, by the Phocians, played in the history of Greece. Temples with 
the ancients served as the dwellings of the gods of commodities. They were 
" sacred banks." With the Phoenicians, a trading people par excellence, money was 
the transmuted shape of everything. It was, therefore, quite in order that the 
virgins, who, at the feast of the Goddess of Love, gave themselves up to strangers, 
should offer to the goddess the piece of money they received. 
"Gold, yellow, glittering, precious gold! 

Thus much of this, will make black white; foul, fair; 

Wrong right; base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant. 

. . . What this, you gods? Why, this 

Will lug your priests and servants from your sides; 

Pluck stout men s pillows from below their heads; 

This yellow slave 
Will knit and break religions; bless the accurs d; 

Make the hoar leprosy ador d; place thieves, 

And give them title, knee and approbation, 

With senators on the bench; this is it, 

That makes the wappen d widow wed again: 

Come damned earth, 

Thou common whore of mankind." 

(Shakespeare: Timon of Athens.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 149 

an external object, capable of becoming the private property 
of any individual. Thus social power becomes the private 
power of private persons. The ancients therefore denounced 
money as subversive of the economical and moral order of 
things. 1 Modern society, which soon after its birth, pulled 
Plutus by the hair of his head from the bowels of the earth, 2 
greets gold as its Holy Grail, as the glittering incarnation of 
the very principle of its own life. 

A commodity, in its capacity of a use-value, satisfies a 
particular want, and is a particular element of material wealth. 
But the value of a commodity measures the degree of its 
attraction for all other elements of material wealth, and there 
fore measures the social wealth of its owner. To a barbarian 
owner of commodities^ and even to a West-European peasant, 
value is the same as value-form, and therefore, to him the 
increase in his hoard of gold and silver is an increase in value. 
It is true that the value of money varies, at one time in con 
sequence of a variation in its own value, at another, in 
consequence of a change in the value of commodities. But 
this, on the one hand, does not prevent 200 ounces of gold from 
still containing more value than 100 ounces, nor, on the other 
hand, does it hinder the actual metallic form of this article 
from continuing to be the universal equivalent form of all other 
commodities, and the immediate social incarnation of all 
human labour. The desire after hoarding is in its very nature 
unsatiable. In its qualitative aspect, or formally considered, 
money has no bounds to its efficacy, i.e., it is the universal re 
presentative of material wealth, because it is directly convert 
ible into any other commodity. But, at the same time, every 
actual sum of money is limited in amount, and therefore, as a 

yip dv6p()irolffiv oiov Apyvpoi 

\affTe TOVTO xat ir6Xs 
IIo/5<?et, r65 Avdpas f^avlffTT]< 

l irapa\\d(r<rti 
rpbs alffxpb d^purcrois %x eitf 
Kal rairds tpyov 5y<ra-^/3eiav clfttvou.. 

(Sophocles, Antigone.) 

* " EXT/fo&TTjs TTJS TrXeovel/as drd&iv in rdv pvxwv T^J 717* airrbv rbv 
(Athen. Deipnos.) 

150 Capitalist Production. 

means of purchasing, has only a limited efficacy. This antag 
onism between the quantitive limits of money and its qualita 
tive boundlessness, continually acts as a spur to the hoarder in 
his Sisyphus-like labour of accumulating. It is with him as it 
is with a conqueror who sees in every new country annexed, 
only a new boundary. 

In order that gold may be held as money, and made to form 
a hoard, it must be prevented from circulating, or from trans 
forming itself into a means of enjoyment. The hoarder, 
therefore, makes a sacrifice of the lusts of the flesh to his gold 
fetish. He acts in earnest up to the Gospel of abstention. On 
the other hand, he can withdraw from circulation no more than 
what he has thrown into it in the shape of commodities. The 
more he produces, the more he is able to sell. Hard work, 
saving, and avarice, are, therefore, his three cardinal virtues, 
and to sell much and buy little the sum of his political 
economy. 1 

By the side of the gross form of a hoard, we find also its 
aesthetic form in the possession of gold and silver articles. 
This grows with the wealth of civil society. " Soyons riches ou 
paraissons riches" (Diderot). In this way there is created, 
on the one hand, a constantly extending market for gold and 
silver, unconnected with their functions as money, and, on the 
other hand, a latent source of supply, to which recourse is had 
principally in times of crisis and social disturbance. 

Hoarding serves various purposes in the economy of the 
metallic circulation. Its first function arises out of the con 
ditions to which the currency of gold and silver coins is sub 
ject We have seen how, along with the continual fluctuations 
in the extent and rapidity of the circulation of commodities 
and in their prices, the quantity of money current unceasingly 
ebbs and flows. This mass must, therefore, be capable of ex 
pansion and contraction. At one time money must be attached 
in order to act as circulating coin, at another, circulating coin 
must be repelled in order to act again as more or less stagnant 

* "Accrescere quanto piu si pu6 il numero de venditori d ogni merce, diminuerc 
quanto piu si pu6 11 numero dei compratori, questt sono i cardini sui quali si 
rtgfirano tutte le operazioni di economia politics." (Vcrri, 1. c. p. 62.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 151 

money. In order that the mass of money, actually current, 
may constantly saturate the absorbing power of the circulation, 
it is necessary that the quantity of gold and silver in a country 
be greater than the quantity required to function as coia 
This condition is fulfilled by money taking the form of hoards. 
These reserves serve as conduits for the supply or withdrawal 
of money to or from the circulation, which in this way never 
overflows its banks. 1 

b. Means of Payment. 

In the simple form of the circulation of commodities hither 
to considered, we found a given value always presented to us in 
a double shape, as a commodity at one pole, as money at the 
opposite pole. The owners of commodities came therefore into 
contact as the respective representatives of what were already 
equivalents. But with the development of circulation, condi 
tions arise under which the alienation of commodities becomes 
separated, by an interval of time, from the realisation of their 
prices. It will be sufficient to indicate the most simple of 
these conditions. One sort of article requires a longer, an 
other a shorter time for its production. Again, the production 
of different commodities depends on different seasons of the 
year. One sort of commodity may be born on its own market 
place, another has to make a long journey to market Commod 
ity-owner No. 1, may therefore be ready to sell, before No. 2 is 
ready to buy. When the same transactions are continually 
repeated between the same persons, the conditions of sale are 

1 "There is required for carrying on the trade of the nation a determinate sum of 
specifick money, which varies, and is sometimes more, sometimes less, as the cir 
cumstances we are in require. . . . This ebbing and flowing of money supplies 
and accommodates itself, without any aid of Politicians. . . . The buckets 
work alternately; when money is scarce, bullion is coined; when bullion is scarce, 
money is melted." (Sir D. North, 1. c., Postscript, p. 3.) John Stuart Mill, who 
for a long time was an official of the East India Company, confirms the fact that 
in India silver ornaments still continue to perform directly the functions of a 
hoard. The silver ornaments are brought out and coined when there is a high 
rate of interest, and go back again when the rate of interest falls. (J. S. Mill s 
Evidence. " Reports on Bank Acts," 1857, 2084.) According to a Parliamentary 
document of 1864, on the gold and silver import and export of India, the im 
port of gold and silver in 1863 exceeded the export by 19,367,764. During the 
8 years immediately preceding 1864, the excess of imports over exports of the 
precious metals amounted to 100,652,917. During this century far more than 
200,000,000 has been coined in India. 

152 Capitalist Production. 

regulated in accordance with the conditions of production. 
On the other hand, the use of a given commodity, of a house, 
for instance, is sold (in common parlance, let) for a definite 
period. Here, it is only at the end of the term that the buyer 
has actually received the use-value of the commodity. He 
therefore buys it before he pays for it. The vendor sells an 
existing commodity, the purchaser buys as the mere represen 
tative of money, or rather of future money. The vendor be 
comes a creditor, the purchaser becomes a debtor. Since the 
metamorphosis of commodities, or the development of their 
value-form, appears here under a new aspect, money also ac 
quires a fresh function ; it becomes the means of payment. 

The character of creditor : or of debtor, results here from th-B 
simple circulation. The change in the form of that circula 
tion stamps buyer and seller with this new die. At first, there 
fore, these new parts are just as transient and alternating a* 
those of seller and buyer, and are in turns played by the samo 
actors. But the opposition is not nearly so pleasant, and is, f ar 
more capable of crystallization. 1 The same characters can, 
however, be assumed independently of the circulation of com 
modities. The class-struggles of the ancient world took the 
form chiefly of a contest between debtors and creditors, whicl 
in Rome ended in the ruin of the plebeian debtors. Thej 
were displaced by slaves. In the middle- ages the contest 
ended with the ruin of the feudal debtors, who lost their po 
litical power together with the economical basis on which it 
was established. Nevertheless, the money relation of debtor 
and creditor that existed at these two periods reflected only the 
deeper-lying antagonism between the general economical con 
ditions of existence of the classes in question. 

Let us return to the circulation of commodities. The ap 
pearance of the two equivalents, commodities and money, at 
the two poles of the process of sale, has ceased to be simulta 
neous. The money functions now, first as a measure of value 

1 The following shows the debtor and creditor relations existing between English 
traders at the beginning of the 18th century. " Such a spirit of cruelty reigns 
here in England among the men of trade, that is not to be met with in any other 
society of men, nor in any other kingdom of the world." (" An Essay on Credit 
and the Bankrupt Act," Lond., 1707, p. 2.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 153 

in the determination of the price of the commodity sold; the 
price fixed by the contract measures the obligation of the 
debtor, or the sum of money that he has to pay at a fixed 
date. Secondly, it serves as an ideal means of purchase. Al 
though existing only in the promise of the buyer to pay, it 
causes the commodity to change hands. It is not before the 
day fixed for payment that the means of payment actually 
steps into, circulation, leaves the hand of the buyer for that of 
the seller. The circulating medium was transformed into a 
hoard, because the process stopped short after the first phase, 
because the converted shape of the commodity, viz., the money, 
was withdrawn from circulation. The means of payment 
enters the circulation, but only after the commodity has left 
it. The money is no longer the means that brings about the 
process. It only brings it to a close, by stepping in as the t 
absolute form of existence of exchange value, or as the uni 
versal commodity. The seJler turned his commodity into 
money, in order thereby to satisfy some want ; the hoarder did 
the same in order to keep his commodity in its money-shape, 
and the debtor in order to be able to pay; if he do not pay, 
his goods will be sold by the sheriff. The value-form of com 
modities, money, is therefore now the end and aim of a sale, 
and that owing to a social necessity springing out of the 
process of circulation itself. 

The buyer converts money back into commodities before he 
has turned commodities into money : in other words, he 
achieves the second metamorphosis of commodities before the 
first. The seller s commodity circulates, and realises its price, 
but only in the shape of a legal claim upon money. It is con 
verted into a use-value before it has been converted into 
money. The completion of its first metamorphosis follows 
only at a later period. 1 

1 It will be seen from the following quotation from my book which appeared in 
1859, why I take no notice in the text of an opposite form: "Contrariwise, in the 
process M C, the money can be alienated as a real means of purchase, and in 
that way, the price of the commodity can be realised before the use-value of the 
money is realised and the commodity actually delivered. This occurs constantly 
under the every-day form of pre-payments. And it is under this form, that the 
English government purchases opium from the ryots of India. ... In these cases, 
however, the money always acts as a means of purchase Of course capital 

154 Capitalist Production. 

The obligations falling due within a given period, repre 
sent the sum of the prices of the commodities, the sale oi which 
gave rise to those obligations. The quantity of gold ne^ssary 
to realise this sum, depends, in the first instance, on the rapid 
ity of currency of the means of payment. That quantity is 
conditioned by two circumstances: first the relations between 
debtors and creditors form a sort of chain, in such a way that 
A, when he receives money from his debtor B, straightway 
hands it over to C his creditor, and so on ; the second cir 
cumstance is the length of the intervals between the different 
due-days of the obligations. The continuous chain of pay 
ments, or retarded first metamorphoses, is essentially different 
from that interlacing of the series of metamorphoses which 
we considered on a former page. By the currency of the 
circulating medium, the connexion between buyers and sellers, 
is not merely expressed. This connexion is originated by, 
and exists in, the circulation alone. Contrariwise, the move 
ment of the means of payment expresses a social relation that 
was in existence long before. 

The fact that a number of sales take place simultaneously, 
and side by side, limits the extent to which coin can be re 
placed by the rapidity of currency. On the other hand, this 
fact is a new lever in economising the means of payment. In 
proportion as payments are concentrated at one spot, special 
institutions and methods are developed for their liquidation. 
Such in the middle ages were the virements at Lyons. The 
debts due to A from B, to B from C, to C from A, and so on, 
have only to be confronted with each other, in order to annul 
each other to a certain extent like positive and negative quan 
tities. There thus remains only a single balance to pay. The 
greater the amount of the payments concentrated, the less is 
this balance relatively to that amount, and the less is the mass 
of the means of payment in circulation. 

The function of money as the means of payment implies a 
contradiction without a terminus medius. In so far as the 

also is advanced in the shape of money. . . . This point of view, however, 
does not fall within the horizon of simple circulation. ("Critique," &c., pp. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 155 

payments balance one another, money functions only ideally 
as money of account, as a measure of value. In so far as ac 
tual payments have to be made, money does not serve as a 
circulating medium, as a mere transient agent in the inter 
change of products, but as the individual incarnation of social 
labour, as the independent form of existence of exchange value, 
as the universal commodity. This contradiction comes to a 
head in those phases of industrial and commercial crises which 
are known as monetary crises. 1 Such a crisis occurs only 
where the ever-lengthening chain of payments, and an artificial 
system of settling them, has been fully developed. Whenever 
there is a general and extensive disturbance of this mechanism, 
no matter what its cause, money becomes suddenly and imme 
diately transformed, from its merely ideal shape of money of 
account, into hard cash. Profane commodities can no longer 
replace it. The use-value of commodities becomes value 
less, and their value vanishes in the presence of its own 
independent form. On the eve of the crisis, the bourgeois, 
with the self-sufficiency that springs from intoxicat 
ing prosperity, declares money to be a vain imagination. 
Commodities alone are money. But now the cry is every 
where : money alone is a commodity ! As the hart pants after 
fresh water, so pants his soul after money, the only wealth. 2 
In a crisis, the antithesis between commodities and their value- 
form, money, becomes heightened into an absolute contradic 
tion. Hence, in such events, the form under which money 
appears is of no importance. The money famine continues, 

1 The monetary crisis referred to in the text, being a phase of every crisis, must 
be clearly distinguished from that particular form of crisis, which also is called a 
monetary crisis, but which may be produced by itself as an independent phenomenon 
in such a way as to react only indirectly on industry and commerce. The pivot of 
these crises is to be found in moneyed capital, and their sphere of direct action is 
therefore the sphere of that capital, vir., banking, the stock exchange, and finance. 

1 "The sudden reversion from a system of credit to a system of hard cash heaps 
theoretical fright on top of the practical panic; and the dealers by whose agency 
circulation is affected, shudder before the impenetrable mystery in which their own 
economical relations are involved" (Karl Marx, L c. p. 198). "The poor stand still, 
because the rich have no money to employ them, though they have the same land 
and hands to provide victuals and clothes, as ever they had; . . . which is the 
true Riches of a Nation, and not the money." (John Bellers: "Proposal* for raUing 
a College of Industry." Lond. 1695. p. 8.) 

156 Capitalist Production. 

whether payments have to be made in gold or in credit money 
such as bank notes. 1 

If we now consider the sum total of the money current dur 
ing a given period, we shall find that, given the rapidity of 
currency of the circulating medium and of the means of pay 
ment, it is equal to the sum of the prices to be realised, plus 
the sum of the payments falling due, minus the payments that 
balance each other, minus finally the number of circuits in 
which the same piece of coin serves in turn as means of 
circulation and of payment. Hence, even when prices, rapid 
ity of currency, and the extent of the economy in payments, 
are given, the quantity of money current and the mass of com 
modities circulating during a given period, such as a day, no 
longer correspond. Money that represents commodities long 
withdrawn from circulation, continues to be current. Com 
modities circulate, whose equivalent in money will not appear 
on the scene till some future day. Moreover, the debts con 
tracted each day, and the payments falling due on the same 
day, are quite incommensurable quantities. 2 

Credit-money springs directly out of the function of money 
as a means of payment. Certificates of the debts owing for 
the purchased commodities circulate for the purpose of trans- 

1 The following shows how such times are exploited by the "amis du commerce," 
"On one occasion (1839) an old grasping banker (in the city) in his private roorc 
raised the lid of the desk he sat over, and displayed to a friend rolls of banknotes, 
saying with intense glee there were 600,000 of them, they were held to make 
money tight, and would all be let out after three o clock on the same day." ("The 
Theory of Exchanges. The Bank Charter Act of 1844." Lond. 1864. p. 81.) The 
Observer, a semi-official government organ, contained the following paragraph on 
24th April, 1864: "Some very curious rumours are current of the means which 
have been resorted to in order to create a scarcity of Banknotes Ques 
tionable as it would seem, to suppose that any trick of the kind would be adopted, 
the report has been so universal that it really deserves mention." 

8 "The amount of purchases or contracts entered upon during the course of any 
given day, will not affect the quantity of money afloat on that particular day, but, 
in the vast majority of cases, will resolve themselves into multifarious drafts upon 
the quantity of money which may be afloat at subsequent dates more or less distant. 
. . . . The bills granted or credits opened, to-day, need have no resemblance 
whatever, either in quantity, amount, or duration, to those granted or entered upon 
to-morrow or next day; nay, many of to-day s bills, and credits, when due, fall in 
with a mass of liabilities whose origins traverse a range of antecedent dates alto 
gether indefinite, bills at 12, 6, 3 months or 1 often aggregating together to swell 
the common liabilities of one particular day. ..." ("The Currency Theory 
Reviewed: a letter to the Scottish people." By a Banker in England. Edinburgh, 
1846. pp. 29, 30 passim.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 157 

ferring those debts to others. On the other hand, to the same 
extent as the system of credit is extended, so is the function 
of money as a means of payment. In that character it takes 
various forms peculiar to itself under which it makes itself at 
home in the sphere of great commercial transactions. Gold 
and silver coin, on the other hand^ are mostly relegated to the 
sphere of retail trade. 1 

When the production of commodities has sufficiently ex 
tended itself, money begins to serve as the means of payment 
beyond the sphere of the circulation of commodities. It be 
comes the commodity that is the universal subject-matter of 
all contracts. 2 Rents, taxes, and such like payments are 
transformed from payments in kind into money payments. 
To what extent this transformation depends upon the general 
conditions of production, is shown, to take one example, by 
the fact that the Koman Empire twice failed in its attempt to 
levy all contributions in money. The unspeakable misery of 
the French agricultural population under Louis XIV., a mis 
ery so eloquently denounced by Boisguillebert, Marshal, Vau- 
ban, and others, was due not only to the weight of the taxes, 
but also to the conversion of taxes in kind into money taxes. 3 

1 As an example of how little ready money is required in true commercial opera 
tions, I give below a statement by one of the largest London houses of its yearly 
receipts and payments. Its transactions during the year 1856, extending to many 
milions of pounds sterling, are here reduced to the scale of one million. 

Bankers and Merchants 

Bills payable after date, - 533,596 
Cheques on Bankers, &c., 

payable on demand, - 357,715 

Country Notes, - - - 9,627 

Bank of England Notes, - 88,554 

Gold - - - 28,089 

Silver and Copper, - 1,486 

Post Office Orders, 983 

Total, - 1,000,000 


Bills payable after date, - 302,674 

Cheques on London Bankers, 663,672 

Bank of England Notes, - 22,743 

Gold 9,427 

Silver and Copper, 1,484 

Total, - 1,000,000 

"Report from the Select Committee on the Bank Acts, July, 1858," p. Ixxi. 

3 "The course of trade being thus turned, from exchanging of goods for goods, or 
delivering and taking, to selling and paying, all the bargains . . . are now 
stated upon the foot of a Prince in money." "An Essay upon Publick Credit." 
3rd Ed. Lond., 1710, p. 8.) 

1 "L argent. . . est devenu le bourreau de toutes choses." Finance is the 
"alambic, qui a fait eVaporer une quantit^ effroyable de biens et de denrees pour 

158 Capitalist Production. 

In Asia, on the other hand, the fact that state taxes are chiefly 
composed of rents payable in kind, depends on conditions of 
production that are reproduced with the regularity of natural 
phenomena. And this mode of payment tends in its turn to 
maintain the ancient form of production. It is one of the 
secrets of the conservation of the Ottoman Empire. If the 
foreign trade, forced upon Japan by Europeans, should lead 
to the substitution of money rents for rents in kind, it will be 
all up with the exemplary agriculture of that country. The 
narrow economical conditions under which that agriculture is 
carried on, will be swept away. 

In every country, certain days of the year become, by habit 
recognised settling days for various large and recurrent pay 
ments. These dates depend, apart from other revolutions in 
the wheel of reproduction, on conditions closely connected with 
the seasons. They also regulate the dates for payments that 
have no direct connexion with the circulation of commodities 
such as taxes, rents, and so on. The quantity of money re 
quisite to make the payments, falling due on those dates all 
over the country, causes periodical, though merely superficial, 
perturbations in the economy of the medium of payment. 1 

From the law of the rapidity of currency of the means of 
payment, it follows that the quantity of the means of pay 
ment required for all periodical payments, whatever their 
source, is in inverse proportion to the length of their periods. 2 

faire ce fatal precis." "L argent declare la guerre a tout le genre humain." (Bois 
guillebert: "Dissertation sur la nature des richesses, de 1 argent et de tribute." 
Edit. Daire. Economistes financiers. Paris, 1843, t. i., pp. 413, 410, 417.) 

1 "On Whitsuntide, 1824," says Mr. Craig before the Commons Committee of 
1826, "there was such an immense demand for notes upon the banks of Edinburgh, 
that by 11 o clock they had not a note left in their custody. They sent round to all 
the different banks to borrow, but could not get them, and many of the transac 
tions were adjusted by slips of paper only; yet by three o clock the whole of the 
notes were returned into the banks from which they had issued! It was a mere 
transfer from hand to hand." Although the average effective circulation of bank 
notes in Scotland is less than three millions sterling, yet on certain pay days in the 
year, every single note in the possession of the bankers, amounting in the whole to 
about 7,000,000, is called into activity. On these occasions the notes have a 
single and specific function to perform, and so soon as they have performed it, they 
flow back into the various banks from which they issued. (See John Fullarton, 
"Regulation of Currencies." Lond: 1844, p. 85 note.) In explanation it should be 
stated, that in Scotland, at the date of Fullarton s work, notes and not cheques were 
used to withdraw deposit*. 

To the question. "If there were occasion to raise 4P mHl*rs p.^ whether tho 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 159 

The development of money into a medium of payment 
makes it necessary to accumulate money against the dates 
fixed for the payment of the sums owing. While hoarding, 
as a distinct mode of acquiring riches, vanishes with the prog 
ress of civil society, the formation of reserves of the means of 
payment grows with that progress. 

c. Universal Money. 

When money leaves the home sphere of circulation, it strips 
off the local garbs which it there assumes, of a standard of 
prices, of coin, of tokens, and of a symbol of value, and re 
turns to its original form of bullion. In the trade between the 
markets of the world, the value of commodities is expressed so 
as to be universally recognised. Hence their independent 
value-form also, in these cases, confronts them under the shape 
of universal money. It is only in the markets of the world 
that money acquires to the full extent the character of the 
commodity whose bodily form is also the immediate social in 
carnation of human labour in the abstract. Its real mode of 
existence in this sphere adequately corresponds to its ideal 

Within the sphere of home circulation, there can be but one 
commodity which, by serving as a measure of value, becomes 
money. In the markets of the world a double measure of 
value holds sway, gold and silver. 1 

ame 6 millions (gold) . . . would suffice for such revolutions and circulations 
thereof, as trade requires," Petty replies in his usual masterly manner, "I answer 
yes: for the expense being 40 millions, if the revolutions were in such short circles, 
yiz., weekly, as happens among poor artizans and labourers, who receive and pay 
every Saturday, then g parts of 1 million of money would answer these ends; but 
if the circles be quarterly, according to our custom of paying rent, and gathering 
taxes, then 10 millions were requisite. Wherefore, supposing payments in general 
to be of a mixed circle between one week and 13, then add 10 millions to 42, 
the half of which will be 5 : A, so as if we have 5 1 A millions we have enough. 
(William Petty: "Political Anatomy of Ireland. * 1672. Edit: Lond. 1691, pp. 
IS, 14.) 

1 Hence the absurdity of every law prescribing that the banks of a country shall 
form reserves of that precious metal alone which circulates at home. The "pleasant 
difficulties" thus self-created by the Bank of England, are well known. On the 
subject of the great epochs in the history of the changes in the relative value of gold 
and silver, see Karl Marx, 1. c. p. 215 sq. Sir Robert Peel, by his Bank Act of 
1844, sought to tide over the difficulty, by allowing the Bank of England to issue 
notes against silver bullion, on condition that the reserve of silver should never ex 
ceed more than one-fourth of the reserve of gold. The value of silver being for 

160 Capitalist Production. 

Money of the world serves as the universal medium of pay 
ment, as the universal means of purchasing, and as the uni 
versally recognised embodiment of all wealth. Its function 
as a means of payment in the settling of international balances 
is its chief one. Hence the watchword of the mercantilists, 
balance of trade. 1 Gold and silver serve as international 

that purpose estimated at its price in the London market. Note to the 4th German 
edition. We find ourselves once more in a period of a marked change in the relative 
values of gold and silver. About 25 years ago the ratio of gold to silver was 15.5 to 
I, now it is about 22 to 1, and silver is continually falling against gold. This is 
essentially a result of a revolution in the processes of production of these two metals. 
Formerly gold was obtained almost exclusively by washing alluvial strata containing 
gold, the products of disintegration of gold-carrying rocks. But now this method 
is no longer sufficient and has been crowded to the rear by the mining of quartz 
layers containing gold, a method formerly considered as secondary, although wull 
known even to the ancients (Diodorus, III, 12-14). On the other hand, immense 
new silver deposits were discovered in the American Rocky Mountains, and these 
as well as the Mexican silver mines opened up by means of railroads, which per 
mitted the influx of modern machinery and fuel and thereby reduced the cost and 
increased the output of silver mining. But there is a great difference in the way 
in which both metals occur in the ore beds. The gold is generally solid, but scat 
tered in minute particles through the quartz layers. The whole diggings must 
therefore be crushed and the gold washed out or extracted by means of quicksilver. 
Frequently one million grams of quartz do not contain more than 1 to 3 grams of 
gold, and rarely more than 30 to 60 grams. Silver, on the ether hand, is rare y 
found in the pure state, but it occurs in some ores which are easily separated fro n 
the dross and contain as much as 40 to 90% of silver. Or smaller quantities of it 
are found in ores like copper, lead, etc., which are themselves worth mining. Th s 
alone is sufficient to show that the work of producing gold has rather increase!, 
while that of producing silver has certainly decreased, and this quite naturally ex 
plains the fall in the value of silver. This fall in value would express itself fn a 
still greater fall of price, if the price of silver were not held up even now by arti 
ficial means. The silver deposits of America, however, have been made accessible 
only to a small extent, and there is, consequently, every prospect of a continued fall 
in the value of silver. This must be further promoted by the relative decrease cf 
the demand for silver for articles of use and luxury, its displacement by plated 
wares, aluminum, etc. Judge, then, of the utopianism of the bimetallist illusion thzt 
a forced international quotation could raise silver to its old value of 15.5 to 1. The 
chances are rather that silver will lose more and more of its character as money o:i 
the world market. F. E. 

1 The opponents, themselves, of the mercantile system, a system which consic 
ered the settlement of surplus trade balances in gold and silver as the aim of inter 
national trade, entirely misconceived the functions of mone) of the world. I hav- 
shown by the example of Ricardo in what way their false conception of the law? 
that regulate the quantity of the circulating medium, is reflected in their equally 
false conception of the international movement in the precious metals (1. c. pp. 15" 
sq.). His erroneous dogma: "An unfavourable balance of trade never arises but 
from a redundant currency. . . . The exportation of the coin is caused by it; 
cheapness, and is not the effect, but the cause of an unfavourable balance," alreadj 
occurs in Barbon: "The Balance of Trade, if there be one, is not the cause ol 
sending away the money out of a nation; but that proceeds from the difference ol 
the value of bullion in every country." (N. Barbon; 1. c. pp. 59, 60.) MacCul 
loch in "the Literature of Political Economy, a classified catalogue, Lond. 1845, 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 161 

means of purchasing chiefly and necessarily in those periods 
when the customary equilibrium in the interchange of products 
between different nations is suddenly disturbed. And lastly, 
it serves as the universally recognised embodiment of social 
wealth, whenever the question is not of buying or paying, but 
of transferring wealth from one country to another, and when 
ever this transference in the form of commodities is rendered 
impossible, either by special conjunctures in the markets, or 
by the purpose itself that is intended. 1 

Just as every country needs a reserve of money for its home 
circulation, so, too, it requires one for external circulation in 
the markets of the world. The functions of hoards, therefore, 
arise in part out of the function of money, as the medium of 
the home circulation and home payments, and in part out 
of its function of money of the world. 2 For this latter func 
tion, the genuine money-commodity, actual gold and silver, is 
necessary. On that account, Sir James Steuart, in order to 
distinguish them from their purely local substitutes, calls gold 
and silver "money of the world." 

The current of the stream of gold and silver is a double one. 
On the one hand, it spreads itself from its sources over all the 
markets of the world, in order to become absorbed, to various 
extents, into the different national spheres of circulation, to 
fill the conduits of currency, to replace abraded gold and silver 

praises Barbon for this anticipation, but prudently passes over the naive forms, in 
which Barbon clothes the absurd suppositoin on which the "currency principle" is 
based. The absence of real criticism and even of honesty, in that catalogue, cul 
minates in the sections devoted to the history of the theory of money; the reason 
is that MacCulloch in this part of the work is flattering Lord Overstone whom he 
calls "fecile princeps argentariorum." 

I For instance, in subsidies, money loans for carrying on wars or for enabling 
banks to resume cash payments, &c., it is the money, form, and no other, of value 
that may be wanted. 

I 1 would desire, indeed, no more convincing evidence of the competency of the 
machinery of the hoards in specie-paying countries to perform every necessary office 
of international adjustment, without any sensible aid from the general circulation, 
than the facility with which France, when but just recovering from the shock of a 
destructive foreign invasion, completed within the space of 27 months the payment 
of her forced contribution of nearly 20 millions to the allied powers, and a con 
siderable proportion of the sum in specie, without any perceptible contraction or 
derangement of her domestic currency, or even any alarming fluctuation of her 
exchanges." (Fullarton, 1. c., p. 134.) Note to the 4th German edition. A still 
more convincing illustration is given by the ease with which the same France, in 
1871 to 1873, was able to pay off in 80 months a war indemnity ten time* 

ad to a considerable extent also in metal money. F. E. 

1 62 Capitalist Production. 

coins, to supply the material of articles of luxury, and to 
petrify into hoards. 1 This first current is started by the 
countries that exchange their labour, realise in commodities, 
for the labour embodied in the precious metals by gold and 
silver-producing countries. On the other hand, there is a con 
tinual flowing backwards and forwards of gold and silver be 
tween the different national spheres of circulation, a current 
whose motion depends on the ceaseless fluctuations in the 
course of exchange. 2 

Countries in which the bourgeois form of production is de 
veloped to a certain extent, limit the hoards concentrated in 
the strong rooms of the banks to the minimum required for 
the proper performance of their peculiar functions. 3 When 
ever these hoards are strikingly above their average level, it 
is, with some exceptions, an indication of stagnation in the 
circulation of commodities, of an interruption in the even flow 
of their metamorphoses. 4 

1 "L argent se partage entre les nations relativement au besoin qu elles en ont. 
. . etant toujours attire par les productions." (Le Trosne 1. c., p. 916.) "The 
mines which are continually giving gold and silver, do give sufficient to supply 
such a needful balance to every nation." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 40.) 

1 "Exchanges rise and fall every week, and at some particular times in the yeaf 
run high against a nation, and at other times run as high on the contrary." (N. 
Barbon, 1. c., p. 39.) 

* These various functions are liable to come into dangerous conflict with one an 
other whenever gold and silver have also to serve as a fund for the conversion of 

4 "What money is more than of absolute necessity for a Home Trade, is dead 
stock . . . and brings no profit to that country it s kept in, but as it is trans 
ported in trade, as well as imported." (John Bellers, Essays, p. 12.) "What if we 
have too much coin? We may melt down the heaviest and turn it into the splendour 
of plate, vessels or utensils of gold or silver; or send it out as a commodity, where 
the same is wanted or desired; or let it out at interest, where interest is high." 
(W. Petty: "Quantulumcunque," p. 39.) "Money is but the fat of the Body 
Politick, whereof too much doth as often hinder its agility, as too little makes it 
sick .... as fat lubricates the motion of the muscles, feeds in want of 
victuals, fills up the uneven cavities, and beautifies the body; so doth money in the 
state quicken its action, feeds from abroad in time of dearth at home; evens ac 
counts . . and beautifies the whole; altho more especially the particular persons 
that have it in plenty." (W. Petty. "Political Anatomy of Ireland," p. 14.) 





THE circulation of commodities is the starting point of capital 
The production of commodities, their circulation, and that 
more developed form of their circulation called commerce, 
these form the historical groundwork from which it rises. 
The modern history of capital dates from the creation in the 
16th century of a world-embracing commerce and a world- 
embracing market 

If we abstract from the material substance of the circula 
tion of commodities, that is, from the exchange of the various 
use-values, and consider only the economic forms produced by 
this process of circulation, we find its final result to be money : 
this final product of the circulation of commodities is the first 
form in which capital appears. 

As a matter of history, capital, as opposed to landed prop 
erty, invariably takes the form at first of money ; it appears as 
moneyecLjEfialth, as the capital of the merchant and of the 
usurer. 1 But we have no need to refer to the origin of capi 
tal in order to discover that the first form of appearance of 
capital is money. We can see it daily under our very eyes. 

1 The contrast between the power, based on the personal relations of dominion and 
servitude, that is conferred by landed property, and the impersonal power that is 
given by money, is well expressed by the two French proverbs, "Nulle terre cans 
seigneur," and "L argent n a pas de maitre." 



164 Capitalist Production. 

All new capital, to commence with, comes on the stage, that is, 
on the market, whether of commodities, labour, or money, even 
in our days, in the shape of money that by a definite process 
has to be transformed into capital. 

The firct distinction we notice between money that is money 
only, and money that is capital, is nothing more than a differ 
ence in their form of circulation. 

The simplest form of the circulation of commodities is C 
M C, the transformation of commodities into money, and the 
change of the money back again into commodities ; or selling 
in order to buy. But alongside of this form we find another 
specifically different form: M C M, the transformation of 
money into commodities, and the change of commodities back 
again into money ; or buying in order to sell. Money th it 
circulates in the latter manner is thereby transformed into, 
becomes capital, and is already potentially capital. 

Now let us examine the circuit M C M a little closer. 
It consists, like the other, of two antithetical phases. In the 
first phase, M C, or the purchase, the money is changed in x> 
a commodity. In the second phase, C M, or the sale, the 
commodity is changed back again into money. The combina 
tion of these two phases constitutes the single movement 
whereby money is exchanged for a commodity and the same 
commodity is again exchanged for money; whereby a cori- 
modity is bought in order to be sold, or, neglecting the dis 
tinction in form between buying and selling, whereby a 
commodity is bought with money, and then money is bought 
with a commodity. 1 The result, in which the phases of the 
process vanish, is the exchange of money for money, M M. 
If I purchase 2000 Ibs. of cotton for 100, and resell the 2000 
Ibs. of cotton for 110, I have, in fact, exchanged 100 for 
110, money for money. 

Now it is evident that the circuit M >C M would be al>- 
surd and without meaning if the intention were to exchange 
by this means two equal sums of money, 100 for 100. Tie 

1 "Arec de ! ardent on chete de merchandises, ct avec des raarchandise* >n 
ckete de I arfent." fMercier de la Rariere: "L ordre nature! et wentiel d 
politiquea." p. MI.) 

The General Formula for Capital. 165 

miser s plan would be far simpler and surer ; he sticks to his 
100 instead of exposing it to the dangers of circulation. And 
yet, whether the merchant who has paid 100 for his cotton 
sells it for 110, or lets it go for 100, or even 50, his money 
has, at all events, gone through a characteristic and original 
movement, quite different in kind from that which it goes 
through in the hands of the peasant who sells corn, and with 
the money thus set free buys clothes. We have therefore to 
examine first the distinguishing characteristics of the forms of 
the circuits M C M and C M C, and in doing this the 
real difference that underlies the mere difference of form will 
reveal itself. 

Let us see, in the first place, what the two forms have in 

Both circuits are resolvable into the same two antithetical 
phases, C M, a sale, and M C, a purchase. In each of 
these phases the same material elements a commodity, and 
money, and the same economical dramatis persona?, a buyer 
and a seller confront one another. Each circuit is the unity 
of the same two antithetical phases, and in each case this unity 
is brought about by the intervention of three contracting par 
ties, of whom one only sells, another only buys, while the third 
both buys and sells. 

What, however, first and foremost distinguishes the circuit 
C M C from the circuit M C! M, is the inverted order of 
succession of the two phases. The simple circulation of com 
modities begins with a sale and ends with a purchase, while 
the circulation of money as capital begins with a purchase 
and ends with a sale. In the one case both the starting- 
point and the goal are commodities, in the other they are 
money. In the first form the movement is brought about 
by the intervention of money, in the second by that of a) 

In the circulation C M C, the money is in the end con 
verted into a commodity, that serves as a use-value ; it is spent 
once for all. In the inverted form, M C M, on the con 
trary, the buyer lays out money in order that, as a seller, he 
may recover money. By the purchase of his commodity he 

1 66 Capitalist Production. 

throws money into circulation, in order to withdraw it again 
by the sale of the same commodity. He lets the money go, 
but only with the sly intention of getting it back again. The 
money, therefore, is not spent, it is merely advanced. 1 

In the circuit C M C ; the same piece of money changes 
its place twice. The seller gets it from the buyer and pays it 
away to another seller. The complete circulation, which be 
gins with the receipt, concludes with the payment, of money 
for commodities. It is the very contrary in the circuit M 
C M. Here it is not the piece of money that changes iia 
place twice, but the commodity. The buyer takes it from the 
hands of the seller and passes .it into the hands of another 
buyer. Just as in the simple circulation of commodities the 
double change of place of the same piece of money effects ila 
passage from one hand into another, so here the double change 
of place of the same commodity brings about the reflux of the 
money to its point of departure. 

Such reflux is not dependent on the commodity being soli 
for more than was paid for it. This circumstance influences 
only the amount of the money that comes back. The reflux 
itself takes place, so soon as the purchased commodity is re 
sold, in other words, so soon as the circuit M C M is coir- 
pleted. We have here, therefore, a palpable ^difference be 
tween the circulation of money as capita], and its circulation 
as mere money. 

The circuit C M C comes completely to an end, so soo i 
as the money brought in by the sale of one commodity 13 
abstracted again by the purchase of another. 

If, nevertheless, there follows a reflux of money to its start 
ing point, this can only happen through a renewal or repeti 
tion of the operation. If I sell a quarter of corn for 3, and 
with this 3 buy clothes, the money, so far as I am concerned, 
is spent and done with. It belongs to the clothes merchant 
If I now sell a second quarter of corn, money indeed flows 
back to me, not however as a sequel to the first transaction, 

1 "When a thing is bought in order to be sold again, the sum employed is calle 1 
money advanced; when it is bought not to be sold, it may be said to be expended."-- 
(James Steuart: "Works," &c. Edited by Gen. Sir James Steuart, his son. Load, 
1806. V. I., p. 274.) 

The General Formula for Capital. 167 

but in consequence of its repetition. The money again leaves 
me, so soon as I complete this second transaction by a fresh 
purchase. Therefore, in the circuit C M C, the expendi 
ture of money has nothing to do with its reflux. On the other 
hand, in M C M, the reflux of the money is conditioned by 
the very mode of its expenditure. Without this reflux, the 
operation fails, or the process is interrupted and incomplete, 
owing to the absence of its complementary and final phase, the 

The circuit C M C starts with one commodity, and 
finishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into 
consumption. Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one 
word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M C M, 
on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money. 
Its leading motive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore 
mere exchange value. 

In the simple circulation of commodities, the two extremes 
of the circuit have the same economic form. They are both 
commodities, and commodities of equal value. But they are 
also use-values differing in their qualities, as, for example, 
corn and clothes. The exchange of products, of the different 
materials in which the labour of society is embodied, forms 
here the basis of the movement. It is otherwise in the cir 
culation M C M, which at first sight appears purposeless, 
because tautological. Both extremes have the same economic 
form. They are both money, and therefore are not qualita 
tively different use-values; for money is but the converted 
form of commodities, in which their particular use-values 
vanish. To exchange 100 for cotton, and then this same 
cotton again for 100, is merely a roundabout way of ex 
changing money for money, the same for the same, and ap 
pears to be an operation just as purposeless as it is absurd. 1 

1 "On n echange pas de 1 argcnt centre de 1 argent," says Mercier de la Riviere to 
the Mercantilists (1. c., p. 486). In a work, which, ex professo, treats of "trade" 
and "speculation," occurs the following: "All trade consists in the exchange of 
things of different kinds; and the advantage" (to the merchant?) "arises out of this 
difference. To exchange a pound of bread against a pound of bread .... 
would be attended with no advantage; .... Hence trade is advantageously 
contrasted with gambling, which consists in a mere exchange of money for money." 
(Th. Corbet, "An Inquiry into the Causes and Modes of the Wealth of Individuals; 

1 68 Capitalist Production. 

One sum of money is distinguishable from another only by its 
amount. The character and tendency of the process M O 
M, is therefore not due to any qualitative difference be 
tween its extremes, both being money, but solely to their 
quantitative difference. More money is withdrawn from cir 
culation at the finish than was thrown into, it at the start. 
The cotton that was bought for 100 is perhaps resold for 
100+10 or 110. The exact form of this process is there- 
fore M C M , where M r =M+ A M=the original sum ad 
vanced, plus an increment. This increment or excess over the 
original value I call "surplus-value." The value originally 
advanced, therefore, not only remains intact while in circula 
tion, but adds to itself a surplus-value or expands itself. It is 
this movement that converts it into capital. 

Of course it is also possible, that in C M O, the two 
extremes C C, say corn and clothes, may represent different 
quantities of value. The farmer may sell his corn above its 
value, or may buy the clothes at less than their value. He 
may, on the other hand, a be done" by the clothes merchant. 
Yet, in the form of circulation now under consideration, such 
differences in value are purely accidental. The fact that the 
corn and the clothes are equivalents, does not deprive the pro 
cess of ail meaning, as it does in M C M. The equivalence 
of their values is rather a necessary condition to Jts_.normai 

The repetition or renewal of the act of selling in order to 
buy, is kept within bounds by the very object it aims at, 
namely, consumption or the satisfatian-of definite wants, an 

or the principles of Trade and Speculation explained." London, 1841, p. 6.) Al 
though Corbet does not see that M M, the exchange of money for money, is the 
characteristic form of circulation, not only of merchants capital but of all capital, 
yet at least he acknowledges that this form is common to gambling and to one spe 
cies of trade, viz., speculation: but then comes MacCulloch and makes out, that to 
buy in order to sell, is to speculate, and thus the difference between Speculation and 
Trade vanishes. "Every transaction in which an individual buys produce in order 
to sell it again, is, in fact, a speculation." (MacCulloch: "A Dictionary Practical, 
&c., of Commerce." Lond., 1847, p. 1058.) With much more naivet6, Pinto, the 
Pindar of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, remarks, "Le commerce est un jeu: 
(taken from Locke) ct ce n est pas avec des gueux qu on peut gagner. Si Ton gag- 
nait long-temps en tout avec tous, il faudrait rendre de bon accord les plus grander 
parties du profit pour recommencer le jeu." (Pinto: "Traiti de la Circulation et du 
Cridit" Amsterdam, 1771, p. 231.) 

The General Formula for Capital. 169 

aim that lies altogether outside the sphere of circulation. But 
when we buy in order to sell, we, on the contrary, begin and 
end with the same thing, money, exchange-value; and thereby 
the movement becomes interminable. No doubt, M becomes 
M+AM, 100 become 110. But when viewed in their 
qualitative aspect alone, 110 are the same as 100, namely 
money; and considered quantitatively, 110 is, like 100, a 
sum of definite and limited value. If now, the 110 be spent 
as money, they cease to play their part They are no longer 
capital. Withdrawn from circulation, they become petrified 
into a hoard, and though they remained in that state till 
doomsday, not a single farthing would accrue to them. If, 
then, the expansion of value is once aimed at, there is just the 
same inducement to augment the value of the 110 as that of 
the 100 ; for both are but limited expressions for exchange- 
value, and therefore both have the same vocation to approach, 
by quantitative increase, as near as possible to absolute wealth. 
Momentarily, indeed, the value originally advanced, the 100 
is distinguishable from the surplus value of 10 that is an 
nexed to it during circulation ; but the distinction vanishes 
immediately. At the end of the process we do not receive 
with one hand the original 100, and with the other, the 
surplus-value of 10. We simply get a value of 110, which 
is in exactly the same condition and fitness for commencing 
the expanding process, as the original 100 was. Money ends 
the movement only to begin it again. 1 Therefore, the final 
result of every separate circuit, in which a purchase and con 
sequent sale are completed, forms of itself the starting point 
of a new circuit The simple circulation of commodities 
selling in order to buy is a means of carrying out a purpose 
unconnected with circulation, namely, the appropriation of 
use-values, the satisfaction of wants. The circulation of 
money as capital is, on the contrary, an end in itself, for the 
expansion of value takes place only within this constantly 

1 "Capital is divisible .... into the original capital and toe profit, the incre 
ment to the capital .... although in practice this profit is immediately turned 
into capital, and set in motion with the original." (F. Engels, "Umrisse zu einer 
Kritik der Nationalokonomie, in: Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, herausgegeben 
TOD Arnold Ruge und Karl Marx." Paris, 1844, p. 99.) 

170 Capitalist Production. 

renewed movement. The circulation of capital has therefore 
no limits. 1 Thus the conscious representative of this move 
ment, the possessor of money becomes a capitalist. His per 
son, or rather his pocket, is the point from which the money 
starts and to which it returns. The expansion of value, 
which is the objective basis or main-spring of the circulation 
M M, becomes his subjective aim, and it is only in so far 
as the appropriation of ever more and more wealth is the ab 
stract becomes the sole motive of his operations, that he func 
tions as a capitalist, that is, as capital personified and en 
dowed with consciousness and a will. Use-values must there 
fore never be looked upon as the real aim of the capitalist; 2 
neither must the profit on any single transaction. The restless 
never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims 

1 Aristotle opposes (Economic to Chrematistic. He starts from the former. So 
far as it is the art of gaining a livelihood, it is limited to procuring those articles 
that are necessary to existence, and useful either to a household or the state. "True 
wealth (6 dXTjflivdj irXoOroj) consists of such values in use; for the quantity of pos 
sessions of this kind, capable of making life pleasant, is not unlimited. There is, 
however, a second mode of acquiring things, to which we may by preference and 
with correctness give the name of Chrematistic, and in this case, there appear to be 
no limits to riches and possessions. Trade ( jj Kairtj\iK^ is literally retail trade, and 
Aristotle takes this kind because in it values in use predominate) does not in its 
nature belong to Chrematistic, for here the exchange has reference only to what is 
necessary to themselves (the buyer or seller)." Therefore, as he goes on to show, 
the original form of trade was barter, but with the extension of the latter, there 
arose the necessity for money. On the discovery of money, barter of necessity de 
veloped into KO.VTJ\IK^I into trading in c6mmodities, and this again, in opposition to 
its original tendency, grew into Chrematistic, into the art of making money. Now 
Chrematistic is distinguishable from (Economic in this way, that "in the case of 
Chrematistic, circulation is the source of riches (iroifjTiK^ xpti/j-druv .... flid 
\(n\\jArd}v Sta/SoXTjj). And it appears to revolve about money, for money is the be 
ginning and end of this kind of exchange (rb ydp v6/xt<r/no ffroixtiov Kal x^pas TIJI 
dXXa777? Iffrlv). Therefore also riches, such as Chrematistic strives for, are un 
limited. Just as every art that is not a means to an end, but an end in itself, has 
no limit to its aims, because it seeks constantly to approach nearer and nearer to 
that end, while those arts that pursue means to an end, are not boundless, since 
the goal itself imposes a limit upon them, so with Chrematistic, there are no bounds 
to its aims, these aims being absolute wealth. (Economic not Chrematistic has a 
limit .... the object of the former is something different from money, of the 
latter the augmentation of money .... By confounding these two forms, which 
overlap each other, some people have been led to look upon the preservation and 
increase of money ad infinitum as the end and aim of (Economic." (Aristotles De 
Rep. edit. Bekker. lib. I. c. 8, 9. passim.) 

* "Commodities (here used in the sense of use-values) are not the terminating 
object of the trading capitalist, money is his terminating object," (Th. Chalmers 
On Pol. Econ. &c., 2nd Ed., Glasgow, 1832, p. 165, 166.) 

The General Formula for Capital 171 

at. 1 This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase 
after exchange-value, 2 is common to the capitalist and the 
miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, 
the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending aug 
mentation of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by 
seeking to save 3 his money from circulation, is attained by the 
more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into 
circulation. 4 

The independent form, i. e., the money-form, which the 
value of commodities assumes in the case of simple circulation, 
serves only one purpose, namely, their exchange, and vanishes 
in the final result of the movement. On the other hand, in 
the circulation M C M, both the money and the commodity 
represent only different modes of existence of value itself, the 
money its general mode, and the commodity its particular, or, 
so to say, disguised mode. 5 It is constantly changing from 
one form to the other without thereby becoming lost, and thus 
assumes an automatically active character. If now we take 
in turn each of the two different forms which self-expanding 
value successively assumes in the course of its life, we then 
arrive at these two propositions : Capital is money : Capital 
is commodities. 8 In truth, however, value is here the active 
factor in a process, in which, while constantly assuming the 
form in turn of money and commodities, it at the same time 
changes in magnitude, differentiates itself by throwing off 
surplus-value from itself; the original value, in other words, 

1 "II mercante non conta quasi per niente il lucro fatto, ma mira sempre al 
future." (A. Genovesi, Lezioni di Economia Civile 1765), Custodi s edit, of Italian 
Economists. Parte Moderna t. xiii. p. 139.) 

* "The inextinguishable passion for gain, the auri sacra fames, will always lead 
capitalists." (MacCulloch: "The principles of Polit. Econ." London, 1830, p. 
179.) This view, of course, does not prevent the same MacCulloch and others of his 
kidney, when in theoretical difficulties, such, for example, as the question of over 
production, from transforming the same capitalist into a moral citizen, whose sole 
concern is for use-values, and who even developes an insatiable hunger for boots, 
hats, eggs, calico, and other extremely familiar sorts of use-values. 

Zwfeij is a characteristic Greek expression for hoarding. So in English to save 
has the same two meanings: sauver and epargner. 

* "Questo infinito che le cose non hanno in progresso, hanno in giro." (Galiani.) 
8 "Ce n est pas la matiere qui fait le capital, mais la valeur de ces matieres." (J. 

B. Say: "Trait* de 1 Econ. Polit." Seme. ed. Paris, 1817, t. 1., p. 428.) 

"Currency (1) employed in producing articles ... is capital." (MacLeod: 
"The Theory and Practice of Banking." London, 1855, v. 1., ch. i., p. 55.) 
"Capital is commodities." (James Mill: "Elements of Pol. Econ." Lond., 1821, p. 74.) 

172 Capitalist Production. 

expands spontaneously. For the movement, in the course of 
which it adds surplus value, is its own movement, its expan 
sion, therefore, is automatic expansion. Because it is value, 
it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value 
to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays 
golden eggs. 

Value, therefore, being the active factor in such a process, 
and assuming at one time the form of money, at another that 
of commodities, but through all these changes preserving itself 
and expanding, it requires some independent form, by means 
of which its identity may at any time be established. Ard 
this form it possesses only in the shape of money. It is under 
the form of money that value begins and ends, and begins 
again, every act of its own spontaneous generation. It began 
by being 100, it is now 110, and so on. But the money 
itself is only one of the two forms of value. Unless it takes 
the form of some commodity, it does not become capital. 
There is here no antagonism, as in the case of hoarding, be 
tween the money and commodities. The capitalist knows that 
all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however 
badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, in 
wardly circumcised Jews, and what is more, a wonderful 
means whereby out of money to make more money. 

In simple circulation, C M C, the value of commodities 
attained at the most a form independent of their use-values, 
i. e. f the form of money ; but that same value now in the cir 
culation M C M ; or the circulation of capital, suddenly 
presents itself as an independent substance, endowed with a 
motion of its own, passing through a life-process of its own, 
in which money and commodities are mere forms which : t 
assumes and casts ojMn turn. Nay, more: instead of simply 
representing the relations of commodities, it enters now, so to 
say, into private relations jwith itself. It differentiates itself 
as original value from itself as surplus-value; as the father 
differentiates himself from himself qu& the son, yet both are 
one and of one age: for only by the surplus value of 10 does 
the 100 originally advanced become capital, and so soon as 
this takes place, so soon as the son, and by the son, the father, 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 173 

is begotten, so soon does their difference vanish, and they again 
become one, 110. 

Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in 
process, and, as such, capital. It comes out of circulation, 
enters into it again, preserves and multiplies itself within its 
circuit, comes back out of it with expanded bulk, and begins 
the same round ever afresh. 1 M M , money which begets 
money, such is the description of Capital from the mouths 
of its first interpreters, the Mercantilists. 

Buying in order to sell, or, more accurately, buying in order 
to sell dearer, M C M , appears certainly to be a form 
peculiar to one kind of capital alone, namely, merchants 
capital. But industrial capital too is money ? that is changed 
into commodities, and by the sale of these commodities, is re 
converted into more money. The events that take place out 
side the sphere of circulation, in the interval between the buy 
ing and selling, do not affect the form of this movement. 
Lastly, in the case of interest-bearing capital, the circulation 
M O M appears abridged. We have its result without the 
intermediate stage, in the form M M , "en style lapidaire" 
so to say, money that is worth more money, value that is 
greater than itself. 

M C M is therefore in reality the general formula of 
capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circula 



THE form which circulation takes when money becomes cap 
ital, is opposed to all the laws we have hitherto investigated 
bearing on the nature of commodities, value and money, and 
even of circulation itself. What distinguishes this form from 
that of the simple circulation of commodities, is the inverted 

1 Capital : "portion f ructifiinte dc la richesse accum ule . . . valeur permanent*, 
tnultipliantc." (Sisxnondi: "Nouvetux principes de 1 icon. polit.," t. i., p. 88, 89.) 

174 Capitalist Production. 

order of succession of the two antithetical processes, sale and 
purchase. How can this purely formal distinction between 
these processes change their character as it were by magic ? 

But that is not all. This inversion has no existence for two 
out of the three persons who transact business together. As 
capitalist, I buy commodities from A. .and sell them again to ]Bj 
but as a simple ownei^jofjconimodities, I sell them to B and 
then purchase fresh ones from A.^ A and B see no difference 
between the two sets of transactions. They are merely buyers 
or sellers. And I on each occasion meet them as a mere own* r 
of either money or commodities, as a buyer or a seller, and, 
what is more, in both sets of transactions, I am opposed to A 
only as a buyer and to B only as a seller, to the one only as 
money, to the other only as commodities, and to either of 
them as capital or a capitalist, or as representative of anything 
that is more than money or commodities, or that can produce 
any effect beyond what money and commodities can. For me 
the purchase from A and the sale to B are part of a series. 
But thp pnnnpvirm l^ptwpgn,, thfl two acts exists for me alone._ 
A does not trouble himself about my transaction with B, no* 
does B about my business with A. And if I offered to explain 
to them the meritorious nature of my action in inverting the- 
order of succession, they would probably point out to me tha ; 
I was mistaken as to that order of succession, and that the 
whole transaction, instead of beginning with a purchase anc 
ending with a sale, began, on the contrary, with a sale and was 
concluded with a purchase. In truth, my first act, the pur 
chase, was from the standpoint of A,, a sale, and my second act, 
the sale, was from the standpoint of B, a purchase. Not con 
tent with that, A and B would declare that the whole series 
was superfluous and nothing but Hokus Pokus ; that for the 
future A would buy direct frorp H, and B sell direct to A. 
Thus the whole transaction would be reduced to a singlejict 
forming an isolated, non-complemented phase in the ordinary 
circulation of commodities, a mere sale from A s point of view, 
and from B s, a mere purchase. The inversion, therefore, of 
the order of succession, does not take us outside the sphere of 
the simple circulation of commodities, and we must rather 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 175 

look, whether there is in this simple circulation anything per 
mitting an expansion of the value that enters into circulation, 
and, consequently, a creation of surplus-value. 

Let us take the process of circulation in a form under which 
it presents itself as a simple and direct exchange of com 
modities. This is always the case when two owners of com 
modities buy from each other, and on the settling day the 
amounts mutually owing are equal and cancel each other. 
The money in this case is money of account and serves to ex 
press the value of the commodities by their prices, but is not, 
itself, in the shape of hard cash, confronted with them. So 
far as regards use-values, it is clear that both parties may gain 
some advantaga Both part with goods that, as use-values, are 
of no service to them, and receive others that they can make 
use of. And there may also be a further gain. A, who sells 
wine and buys corn, possibly produces more^wine, with given 
labour time, than farmer B could, and B, on the other hand, 
more cornjhan wine-grower A could. A, therefore, may get, 
for the same exchange value, more jgorn, and B_more wine, 
than each would respectively get without any exchange by pro 
ducing his own corn_and wine. With reference, therefore, to 
use-value^jJiere is good ground for saying that "exchange is a 
transaction by which bot]i sides jarain." * It is otherwise with 
exchange value. "A man who has plenty of wine and no corn 
treats with a man who has plenty of corn and no wine ; an ex 
change takes place between them of corn to the value of 50, 
for wine of the same value. This act produces no increase of 
exchange value either for the one or the other ; for each of 
them already possessed, before the exchange, a value equal 
to that which he acquired by means of that operation. " 2 The 
result is not altered by introducing money, as a medium of cir 
culation, between the commodities, and making the sale and 
the purchase two distinct acts. 3 The value of a commodity is 

*"L cbange est unc transaction admirable dans laquelle les deux contractants 
gagnent toujours (!)" (Destutt de Tracy: "Traite de la Volonte et de ses effets." 
Paris, 1826, p. 68.) This work appeared afterwards as "Traite de 1 Econ. Polit. 

"Mercier de la Riviere," 1. c. p. 544. 

8 "Que 1 une de ces deux valeurs soit argent, ou qu elles soient toutes deux mer 
chandises usuelles, rien de plus indifferent n soi." (Mercier de la Riviere," 
1. c. p. 648.) 

176 Capitalist Production. 

expressed in its prigs before it goes into circulation, and is 
therefore a precedent condition of circulation, not its result. 1 
Abstractedly considered, that is, apart from circumstances 
not immediately flowing from the laws of the simple circula 
tion of commodities, there is in an exchange nothing (if we 
except the replacing of one use-value by another) but a 
metamorphosis, a mere change in the form of ^thejspmmodity. 
The same exchange value, i.e., the same quantity of incor 
porated social labour, remains throughout in the hands of the 
owner of the commodity first in the shape of his own com 
modity, then in the form of the money for which he exchanged 
it, and lastly, in the shape of the commodity he buys with that 
money. Thi^ fihangp of form does not imply a change in the 
magnitude of the value. But the change, which the value of 
the commodity undergoes in this process, is limited to a change 
in its money form. This form exists first as the price of the 
commodity offered for sale, then as an actual sum of money, 
which, however, was already expressed in the price, and lastly, 
as the price of an equivalent commodity. This change of 
form no more implies, taken alone, a change in the quantity 
of value, than does the change of a 5 note into sovereigns, 
half sovereigns and shillings. So far therefore as the circula 
tion of commodities effects a change in the form alone of their 
values, and is free from disturbing influences, it must be the 
exchange of equivalents. Little as Vulgar-Economy knows 
about the nature of value, yet whenever it wishes to consider 
the phenomena of circulation in their purity, it assumes that 
supply and demand are equal, which amounts to this, that their 
effect is nil. If therefore, as regards the use-values ex 
changed, both buyer and seller may possibly gain something, 
this is not the case as regards the exchange values. Here we 
must rather say, "Where equality exists there can be no gain." 2 
It is true, commodities may be sold at prices deviating from 
their values, but these deviations are to be considered as in- 

1 "Ce ne sont pas les contractants qui prononcent sur valcur; elle eat deride* 
Tint la convention." ("Le Trosne," p. 906.) 

"Dove e egualita non lucre." (Galiani, "Delia Moneta in Cuftodi. Porte 
Moderns," t iv. p. 244.) 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 177 

fractions of the laws of the exchange of commodites, 1 which V 
in its normal state is an exchange of equivalents, consequently, \ 
no method for increasing value. 2 

Hence, we see that behind all attempts to represent the 
circulation of commodities as a source of surplus-value, there 
lurks a quid pro quo, a mixing up of use-value and exchange 
value. For instance, Condillac says : "It is not true that on 
an exchange of commodities we give value for value. On the 
contrary, each of the two contracting parties in every case, 
gives a less for a greater value. ... If we really exchanged 
equal values, neither party could make a profit. And yet, 
they both gain, or ought to gain. Why ? The value of a 
thing consists solely in its relation to our wants. What is 
more to the one is less to the other, and vice versd. ... It 
is not to be assumed that we offer for sale articles required for 
our own consumption. . . . We wish to part with a use 
less thing, in order to get one that we need ; we want to give 
less for more. ... It was natural to think that, in an ex 
change, value was given for value, whenever each of the ar 
ticles exchanged was of equal value with the same quantity 
of gold. . . . But there is another point to be considered in 
our calculation. The question is, whether we both exchange 
something superfluous for something necessary." 3 We see in 
this passage, how Condillac not only confuses use-value with 
exchange value, but in a really childish manner assumes, that 
in a society, in which the production of commodities is well 
developed, each producer produces his own means of subsis 
tence, and throws into circulation only the excess over his own 
requirements. 4 Still, Condillac s argument is frequently used 

1 "Lechange devient de"sarantageux pour 1 une des parties, lorsque quelque chose 
e"trangere vient diminuer ou exagerer le prix; alors 1 egalite est blessee, mais la 
lesion precede de cette cause et non de 1 ichange." ("Le Trosne," 1. c. p. 904.) 

1 "L echange est de sa nature un contrat d e galite qui se fait de valeur pour valeur 
{gale. II n est done pas un moyen de s enrichir, puisque Ton donne autant que Ton 
recoiL" ("Le Trosne," 1. c. p. 903.) 

Condillac: "Le Commerce et le Gouvernement" (1776). Edit. Dairc et Molinari 
in the "Melanges d Econ. Polit." Paris, 1847, p. 267, etc. 

Le Trosne, therefore, answers hit friend Condillac with justice as follows: "Dans 
une . . . societe formee il n y a pas de surabondant en aucun genre." At the 
ame time, in a bantering way, he remarks: "If both the persons who exchange re- 
ceive more to an equal amount, and part with less to an equal amount, they both get 
the same." It is because Condillac has not the remotest idea of the nature of 


178 Capitalist Production. 

by modem economists, more especially when the point is to 
show, that the exchange of commodities in its developed form, 
commerce, is productive of surplus-value. For instance, 
"Commerce .... adds value to products, for the same prod 
ucts in the hands of consumers, are worth more than in the 
hands of producers, and it may strictly be considered an act of 
production." 1 But commodities are not paid for twice over, 
once on account of their use-value, and again on account of 
their value. And though the use-value of a commodity is 
more servicable to the buyer than to the seller, its money form 
is more serviceable to the seller. Would he otherwise sell it? 
We might therefore just as well say that the buyer performs 
"strictly an act of production," by converting stockings, for 
example, into money. 

If commodities, or commodities and money, of equal ex 
change-value, and consequently equivalents, are exchanged, it 
is plain that no one abstracts more value from, than he thro^vs 
into, circulation. There is no creation of surplus-value. 
And, in its normal form, the circulation of commodities de 
mands the exchange of equivalents. But in actual practice, 
the process does not retain its normal form. Let us, theie- 
fore, assume an exchange of non-equivalents. 

In any case the market for commodities is only frequenfcxl 
by owners of commodities, and the power which these persons 
exercise over each other, is no other than the power of their 
commodities. The material variety of these commodities is the 
material incentive to the act of exchange, and makes buyers 
and sellers mutually dependent, because none of them possess 38 
the object of his own wants, and each holds in his hand the 
object of another s wants. Besides these material differences 
of their use-values, there is only one other difference between 
commodities, namely, that between their bodily form and the 
form into which they are converted by sale, the difference ba- 

exchange value that he has been chosen by Herr Professor Wilhelm Roscher as a 
proper person to answer for the soundness of his own childish notions. See 
Roscher s "Die Grundlagen der Nationalokomonie, Dritte Auflage," 1858. 

1 S. P. Newman: "Elements of Polit Econ." Andover and New York, 18; 5, 
p. 176. 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital 179 

tween commodities and money. And consequently the owners 
of commodities are distinguishable only as sellers, those who 
own commodities, and buyers, those who own money. 

Suppose then, that by some inexplicable privilege, the seller j \ 
is enabled to sell his commodities above their value, what is I 
worth 100 for 110, in which case the price is nominally raised 
10%. The seller therefore pockets a surplus value of 10. 
But after he has sold he becomes a buyer. A third owner of 
commodities comes to him now as seller, who in this capacity 
also enjoys the privilege of selling his commodities 10% too 
dear. Our friend gained 10 as a seller only to lose it again as 
a buyer. 1 The nett result is, that all owners of commodities 
sell their goods to one another at 10% above their value, which 
comes precisely to the same as if they sold them at their true 
value. Such a general and nominal rise of prices has the 
same effect as if the values had been expressed in weight of 
silver instead of in weight of gold. The nominal prices of 
commodities would rise, but the real relation between their 
values would remain unchanged. 

Let us make the opposite assumption, that the buyer has 
the privilege of purchasing commodities under their value. 
In this case it is no longer necessary to bear in mind that he 
in his turn wll become a seller. He was so before he became 
buyer; he had already lost 10% in selling before he gained 
10% as buyer. 2 Everything is just as it was. 

The creation of surplus^value, and therefore the conversion j , 
of money into capital, can consequently be explained neither / 
on the assumption that commodities are sold above their value, J 
nor that they are bought below their value. 3 

1 "By the augmentation of the nominal value of the produce . . . sellers not en 
riched . . . since what they gain as sellers, they precisely expend in the quality of 
buyers." ("The Essential Principles of the Wealth of Nations," c., London, 1797, 
p. 66.) 

* "Si 1 on est force de donner pour 18 livres une quantite de telle production qui 
en valait 24, lorsqu on employera ce meme argent a acheter, on aura galement pour 
18 1. ce que Ton payait 24." ("Le Trosne," 1. c. p. 897.) 

8 "Chaque vendeur ne peut done parvenir a rencherir habituellement ses marchan- 
discs, qu en se soumettant aussi a payer habituellement plus cher les marchandises 
des autres vendeurs; et par la meme raison, chaque consommateur ne peut payer 
habituellement moins cher ce qu il achete, qu en se soumettant aussi a une diminu 
tion semblable sur le prix des choses qu il vend." (Mercier de la Ravi6re," 1. c, p. 

180 Capitalist Production. 

The problem is in no way simplified by introducing irrele 
vant matters after the manner of Col. Torrens: "Effectual 
demand consists in the power and inclination ( !), on the part 
of consumers, to give for commoditiee, either by immediate or 
circuitous barter, some greater portion of ... capital than 
their production costs." J In relation to circulation, producers 
and consumers meet only as buyers and sellers. To assert 
that the surplus-value acquired by the producer has its origin 
In the fact that consumers pay for commodities more than their 
is only to say in other words: The owjiej^of commod- 
gq a $eller f the privilege of selling too 

The seller has himself produced the commodities or represents 
their producer, but the buyer has to no less extent produced 
the commodities represented by his money, or represents their 
producer. The distinction between them is, that one buys and 
the other sells. ^JOTe fact that the owner of the commodities, 

under the designation of producer, sells them over their value, 
and under the designation of consumer, pays too much for 
them, does not carry us a single step further. 2 

To be consistent therefore, the upholders of the delusion that 
surplus-value has its origin in a nominal rise of prices or in 
the privilege which the seller has of selling too dear, must 
assume the existence of a class that only buvs and does not sell* 
i.e., only consumes and does not prodn^ The existence of 
such a class is inexplicable from the standpoint we have so far 
reached, viz., that of simple circulation. But let us anticipate. 
The money with which such a class is constantly making pur 
chases, must constantly flow into their pockets, without any 
exchange, gratis, by might or right, from the pockets of the 
commodity-owners themselves. To sell commodities above 
their value to such a class, is only to crib back again a part 
of the money previously given to it* The towns of Asia 

!R. Torrena: "An Essay on the Production of Wealth." London, 1831, p. 349. 

* "The idea of profits being paid by the consumers, is, assuredly, very absurd. 
Who are the consumers?" (G. Ramsay: "An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth." 
Edinburgh, 1336. p. 183.) 

1 "When a man is in want of a demand, does Mr. Malthus recommend him to 
pay some other person to take off his goods?" is a question put by an angry disciple 
of Ricardo to Malthus, who, like his disciple. Parson Chalmers, economically glori 
fies this class of simple buyers or consumers. (See "An Inquiry into those princi- 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. iBi 

Minor thus paid a yearly money tribute to ancient Rome. 
With this money Rome purchased from them commodities, and 
purchased them too dear. The provincials cheated the Ro 
mans, and thus got back from their conquerors, in the course 
of trade, a portion of the tribute. Yet, for all that, the con 
quered were the really cheated. Their goods were still paid 
for with their own money. That is not the way to get rich or 
to create surplus-value. 

Let us therefore keep within the bounds of exchange where 
sellers are also buyers, and buyers, sellers. Our difficulty may 
perhaps have arisen from treating the actors as personifications 
instead of as individuals. 

A may be clever enough to get the advantage of B or C 
without their being able to retaliate. A sells wine worth 40 
to B, and obtains from him in exchange corn to the value of 
50. A has converted his 40 into 50, has made more money 
out of less, and has converted his commodities into capital. 
Let us examine this a little more closely. Before the exchange 
we had 40 worth of wine in the hands of A, and 50 worth 
of corn in those of B, a total value of 90. After the exchange 
we have still the same total value of 90. The value in cir 
culation has not increased by one iota, it is only distributed 
differently between A and B. What is a loss of value to B 
is surplus-value to A ; what is "minus" to one is "plus" to the 
other. The same change would have taken place, if A, with 
out the formality of an exchange, had directly stolen the 10 
from B. The sum of the values in circulation can clearly not 
be augmented by any change in their distribution, any more 
than the quantity of the precious metals in a country by a 
Jew selling a Queen Ann s farthing for a guinea. The cap 
italist class, as a whole, in any country, cannot over-reach 
themselves. 1 

Turn and twist then as we may, the fact remains unaltered. 

pies respecting the Nature of Demand and the necessity of Consumption, lately ad 
vocated by Mr. Malthus," 4c. Lond., 1821, p. 65.) 

1 Destutt de Tracy, although, or perhaps because, he was a member of the Insti 
tute, held the opposite view. He says, industrial capitalists make profits because 
"they all sell for more than it has cost to produce. And to whom do they sell? 
In the first instance to one another." (1. e., p. 230.) 

1 82 Capitalist Production. 

If ftqnivfl_1fntfi flfp pvp.linngfiHj no surplus-value res^lt^ and if 
non^eciiuxakiits are exchanged, st.jl] no aiirphiq-yaJpg. 1 Cir 
culation, or the exchange of commodities, begets no value. 2 

The reason is now therefore plain why, in analysing the 
standard form of capital, the form under which it determines 
the economical organisation of modern society, we entirely 
left out of consideration its most popular, and, so to say, ante 
diluvian forms, merchants capital and money-lenders capital. 

The circuit M C M , buying in order to sell dearer, is 
seen most clearly in genuine merchants capital. But the 
movement takes place entirely within the 

Since, however, it is impossibly by ^^^lofi^n alone, to ac 
count for the conversion of money into capital, for the forma 
tion of surplus-value^ it would appear, that merchants capital 
is an impossibility, so long as equivalents are e 
therefore, it can only have its origin in the twofold advantage 
gained, over both the selling and the buying producers, by the 
merchant who parasitically shoves himself in between them. 
It is in this sense that Franklin says, "war is robbery, com 
merce is generally cheating." 4 If the transformation of 
merchants money into capital is to be explained otherwise 
than by the producers being simply cheated, a long series of 
intermediate steps would be necessary, which, at present, when 

1 "L echange qui se fait de deux valeurs gales n augmente ni ne diminue la 
masse des valeurs subsistantes dans la societe. L echange de deux valeurs inegales 

ne change rien non plus a la somme des valeurs sociales, bien qu il ajoute 
a la fortune de 1 un ce pu il ote de la fortune de 1 autre." J. B. Say, 1. c. t. I., 
pp. 344, 345.) Say, not in the least troubled as to the consequences of this state 
ment, borrows it, almost word for word, from the Physiocrats. The following example 
will shew how Monsieur Say turned to account the writings of the Physiocrats, in 
his day quite forgotten, for the purpose of expanding the "value" of his own. His 
most celebrated saying, "On n achete des produits qu avec des produits" (1. c., t. II., 
p. 438) runs as follows in the original physiocratic work: "Les productions ne se 
paient qu avec des productions." ("Le Trosne," 1. c., p. 899.) 

2 "Exchange confers no value at all upon products." (F. Wayland: "The Ele 
ments of Political Economy." Boston, 1853, p. 168.) 

8 Under the rule of invariable equivalents commerce would be impossible. (G. 
Opdyke: "A Treatise on Polit Economy." New York, 1851, p. 66-69.) "The dif 
ference between real value and exchange-value is based upon this fact, namely, that 
the value of a thing is different from the socalled equivalent given for it in trade, 
i.e., that this equivalent is no equivalent." (F. Engels, 1. c. p. 96.) 

4 Benjamin Franklin: Works, Vol. II. edit. Sparks in "Positions to be examined 
concerning National Wealth," p. 876. 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 183 

the simple circulation of commodities forms our only assump 
tion, are entirely wanting. 

What we have said with reference to merchants capital, 
applies still more to money-lenders capital. In merchants 
capital, the two extremes, the money that is thrown upon the 
market, and the augmented money that is withdrawn from the 
market, are at least connected by a purchase and a sale, in 
other words by the movement of the circulation. In money 
lenders capital the form M C W is reduced to the two ex 
tremes without a mean, M M , money exchanged for more 
money, a form that is incompatible with the nature of money, 
and therefore remains inexplicable from the standpoint of the 
circulation of commodities. Hence Aristotle: "since chrema- 
tistic is a double science, one part belonging to commerce, the 
other to economic, the latter being necessary and praiseworthy, 
the former based on circulation and with justice disapproved 
(for it is not based on Nature, but on mutual cheating), there 
fore the usurer is most rightly hated, because money itself is 
the source of his gain, and is not used for the purposes for 
which it was invented. For it originated for the exchange of 
commodities, but interest makes out ofjnoney, more^ money. 
Hence its name ( TOKO? interest and offspring). For the be 
gotten are like those who beget them. But interest is money I 
of money, so that of all modes of making a living, this is the 
most contrary to nature." 1 

In the course of our investigation, we shall find that both 
merchants capital and interest-bearing capital are derivative 
forms, and at the same time it will become clear, why these 
two forms appear in the course of history before the modern, 
standard form of capital. 

We have shown that^ surplus-value cannot be created by 
circulation, and, therefore, that in its formation, something 
must take place in the background, wnich is not apparent in 
the circulation itself. 2 But can surplus-value possibly origin 
ate anywhere else than in circulation, which is the sum total 

1 Aristotle, I. c. c. 10. 

* Profit, in the usual condition of the market, is not made hy exchanging. Had 
it not existed before, neither could it after that transaction." (Ramsay, 1. c., p. 

1 84 Capitalist Production. 

of all the mutual relations of commodity-owners, as far as they 
are determined by their commodities ? Apart from circula 
tion, the commodity-owner is in relation only with his own 
commodity. So far as regards value, that relation is 
limited to this, that the commodity contains a quantity of his 
labour, that quantity being measured by a definite social 
standard. This quantity is expressed by the value of the 
commodity, and since the value is reckoned in money of ac 
count, this quantity is also expressed by the price, which we 
will suppose to be 10. But his labour is not represented both 
by the value of the commodity, and by a surplus over that 
value, not by a price of 10 that is also a price of 11, not by a 
value that is greater than itself. The commodity owner can f 
by his labour, create value, but not self -expand ing value. He 
can increase the value of his commodity, by adding fresh 
labour, and therefore more value to the value in hand, by mak 
ing, for instance, leather into boots. The same material has 
now more value, because it contains a greater quantity of 
labour. The boots have therefore more value than the leathei, 
but the value of the leather remains what it was; it has not 
expanded itself, has not, during the making of the boots, an 
nexed surplus value. It is therefore impossible that outsido 
the sphere of circulation, a producer of commodities can, with 
out coming into contact with other commodity owners, ex 
pand value, and consequently convert money or commodities 
into capital. 

It is therefore impossible for capital to be produced by cir- 
/n llati? rm i and it is equally impossible for it to originate apart 
from circulation. It must have its origin both in circulation 
and yet not in circulation. 

We have, therefore, got a double result 

The conversion of money into capital has to be explaini_oji. 
the basis of the laws that regulate the exchange of commod- 
ities, in such a way that the starting point is the exfih&nge of 
equivalents. 1 Our friend, Moneybags, who as yet is only an 

1 From the foregoing investigation, the reader will see that this statement only 
means that the formation of capital must be possible even though the price and value 
of * commodity be the same; for its formation cannot be attributed to any deviation 
f the on from the other. If prices actually differ from values, we must, first of 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 185 

embryo capitalist, must buy his commodities flfr theirvahie T 
must sell them at their^ value,, and yet at the end of the pro 
cess must withdraw more value from circulation than he threw.. 
into it at starting. His development into a full-grown capi 
talist must take place, both within the sphere of circulation 
and without it, These are the conditions of the problem. 
Hie Rhodus, hie salta ! 



THE change of value that occurs in the case of money intended 
to be converted into capital, cannot take place in the money 
itself, since in its function of means of purchase and of pay 
ment, it does no more than realise the price of the commodity 
it buys or pays for; and, as hard cash, it is value petrified, 
never varying. 1 Just as little can it originate in the second 
act of circulation, the re-sale of the commodity, which does 
no more than transform the article from its bodily form back 
again into its money-form. The chajnge must, therefore, take 
place in the commodity bought by the first act, M C, but not 
in its value, for equivalents are exchanged, and the commodity 
is paid for at its full value. We are, therefore, forced to the 

all, reduce the former to the latter, in other words treat the difference as accidental 
in order that the phenomena may be observed in their purity, and our observations 
not interfered with by disturbing circumstances that have nothing to do with the 
process in question. We know, moreover, that this reduction is no mere scientific 
process. The continual oscillation in prices, their rising and falling, compensate each 
other, and reduce themselves to an average price, which is their hidden regulator. It 
forms the guiding star of the merchant or the manufacturer in every undertaking 
that requires time. He knows that when a long period of time is taken, commodities 
are sold neither over nor under, but at their average price. If therefore he thought 
about the matter at all, he would formulate the problem of the formation of capital 
as follows: How can we account for the origin of capital on the supposition that 
prices are regulated by the average price, i.e., ultimately by the value of the com 
modities? I say "ultimately," because average prices do not directly coincide with 
the values of commodities, as Adam Smith, Ricardo, and others believe. 

1 "In the form of money. . . capital is productive of no profit." (Ricardo: 
"Princ. of Pol. Eton." p. t7.) 

1 86 Capitalist Production. 

conclusion that the change originates in the use-value, a& such, 
of the commodity, i.e., in its consumption. In order to be able 
to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our 
friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to find, within the 
sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity^ whose use- 
value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of 
value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an em 
bodiment of labour, and, consequently, a creation of value. 
The possessor of money does find on the market such a special 
commodity in capacity for labour orjabour-power. 

By labour-power or capacity for labour is to be understood 
the aggregate_of these mental and physical capabilities exist 
ing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces 
a use-value of. any description. 

But in order that our owner of money may be able to find 
labour-power offered for sale as a commodity, various condi 
tions must first be fulfilled. The exchange of commodities of 
itself implies no other relations of dependence than those which 
result from its own nature. On this assumption, labour-power 
can appear upon the market as a commodity only if, and so 
far as, its possessor, the individual whose labour-power it is, 
offers it for sale, or sells it, as a commodity. In order that h<3 
may be able to do this, he must have it at his disposal, must 
be the untrammelled owner of his capacity for labour, i.e., of 
his person. 1 He and the owner of money meet in the market, 
and deal with each other as on the basis of equal rights, with 
this difference alone, that one is buyer, the other seller; both, 
therefore, equal in the eyes of the law. The continuance o: 
this relation demands that the owner of the labour-power 
should sell it only for a definite period, for if he were to sell i : 
rump and stump, once for all, he would be selling himself 
converting himself from a free man into a slave, from ar 
owner of a commodity into a commodity. He must constantly 
look upon his labour-power as his own property, his own com 
modity, and this he can only do by placing it at the disposal oi 

1 In encyclopaedias of classical antiquities we find such nonsense as this that in 
the ancient world capital was fully developed, "except that the free labourer and 
sytem of credit was wanting." Mommscn also, in his "History of Rome," commits, 
in this respect, one blunder after another. 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 187 

the buyer temporarily, for a definite period of time. By this 
means alone can he avoid renouncing his rights of ownership 
over it. 1 

The second essential condition to the owner of money find 
ing labour-power in the market as a commodity in this that 
the labourer instead of being in the position to sell com 
modities in which his labour is incorporated, must be obliged 
to offer for sale as a commodity that very labour-power, which 
exists only in his living self. 

In order that a man may be able to sell commodities other 
than labour-power, he must of course have the means of 
production, as raw material, implements, &c. No boots can 
be made without leather. He requires also the means of sub 
sistence. Nobody not even "a musician of the future" 
can live upon future products, or upon use-values in an un 
finished state; and ever since the first moment of his appear 
ance on the world s stage, man always has been, and must still 
be a consumer, both before and while he is producing. In a 
society where all products assume the form of commodities, 
these commodities must be sold after they have been produced ; 
it is only after their sale that they can serve in satisfying the 
requirements of their producer. The time necessary for their 
sale is superadded to that necessary for their production. 

For the conversion of his money into capital, therefore, the 
owner of money must meet in the market with the free 
labourer, free in the double sense, that as a free man he can 

1 Hence legislation in various countries fixes a maximum for labour-contracts. 
Wherever free labour is the rule, the laws regulate the mode of terminating this con 
tract. In some States, particularly in Mexico (before the American Civil War, also 
in the territories taken from Mexico, and also as a matter of fact, in the Danubian 
provinces till the revolution affected by Kusa), slavery is hidden under the form of 
peonage. By means of advances, repayable in labour, which are handed down 
from generation to generation, not only the individual labourer, but his family, 
become, de facto, the property of other persons and their families. Juarez abolished 
peonage. The so-called Emperor Maximilian re-established it by a decree, which, in 
the House of Representatives at Washington, was aptly denounced as a decree for 
the re-introduction of slavery into Mexico. "I may make over to another the use, 
for a limited time, of my particular bodily and mental aptitudes and capabilities; 
because, in consequence of this restriction, they are impressed with a character of 
alienation with regard to me as a whole. But by the alienation of all my labour- 
time and the whole of my work, I should be converting the substance itself, in other 
words, my general activity and reality, my person, into the property of another." 
(Hegel, "Philosophic des Rechts." Berlin, 1840, p. 104 { 67.) 

i88 Capitalist Production. 

dispose of his labour-power as his own commodity, and that oa 

I the other hand he has no other commodity for sale, is short 
of everything necessary for the realisation of his labour- 

The question why this free labourer confronts him in the 
market, has no interest for the owner of money, who regards 
the labour market as a branch of the general market for com 
modities. And for the present it interests us just as little. 
We cling to the fact theoretically, as he does practically. One 
thing, however, is clear nature does not produce on the one 
side owners of money or commodities, and on the other men 
possessing nothing but their own labour-power. This relation 
has no natural basis, neither is its socal basis one that is 
common to all historical periods. It is clearly the result of a 
past historial development, the product of many economical 
revolutions, of the extinction of a whole series of older forms 
of social production. 

So, too, the economical categories, already discussed by us, 
bear the stamp of history. Definite historical conditions are 
necessary that a product may become a commodity. It must 
not be produced as the immediate means of subsistence of the 
producer himself. Had we gone further, and inquired under 
what circumstances all, or even the majority of products take 
the form of commodities, we should have found that this can 
only happen with production of a very specific kind, capitalist 
production. Such an inquiry, however, would have been 
foreign to the analysis of commodities. Production and cir 
culation of commodities can take place, although the great 
mass of the objects produced are intended for the immediate 
requirements of their producers, are not turned into commodi 
ties, and consequently social production is not yet by a long 
way dominated in its length and breadth by exchange-value, 
the appearance of products as commodities presupposed such a 
development of the social division of labour, that the separation 
of use-value from exchange-value, a separation which first 
begins with barter, must already have been completed. But 
such a degree of development is common to many forms of 
society, which in other respects present the most varying 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 189 

historical features. On the other hand, if we consider money, 
its existence implies a definite stage in the exchange of com 
modities. The particular functions of money which it per 
forms, either as the mere equivalent of commodities, or as 
means of circulation, or means of payment, as hoard or as 
universal money, point, according to the extent and relative 
preponderance of the one function or the other, to very differ 
ent stages in the process of social production. Yet we know ^ 
by experience that a circulation of commodities relatively \ 
primitive, suffices for the production of all these forms. 
Otherwise with capital. The historioaLfifladitions of its ex 
istence are by no means given with the mere circulation of 
money and oopi modifies. It can spring into life, only when 
the owner of the meajis of production and subsistence meets in 
the market with the free labourer selling his labour-power. 
And this one historical condition comprises a world s history. 
Capital therefore, announces from its first appearance a new 
epoch in the process of social production. 1 

We must now examine more closely this peculiar commodity, 
labour-power. Like all others it has a value. 2 How is that 
value determined ? 

The value of labour-power is determined, as in the case of 
every other commodity, by the labour-time necessary for the 
production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this 
special article. So far as it has value, it represents no more 
than a definite quantity of the average labour of society 
incorporated in it. Labour-power exists only as a capacity, or 
power of the living individual. Its production consequently 
presupposes his existence. Given the individual, the produc 
tion of labour-power consists in his reproduction of himself or 
his maintenance. For his maintenance he requires a given 
quantity of the means of subsistence. Therefore the labour- 
time requisite for the production of labour-power reduces itself 

1 The capitalist epoch is therefore characterised by this, that labour-power takes 
in the eyes of the labourer himself the form of a commodity which is his property; 
his labour consequently becomes wage labour. On the other hand, it is only from 
this moment that the produce of labour universally becomes a commodity. 

"The value or worth of a man, is as of all other things his price that is to y, 
so much as would be given for the use of his power." (Th. Hobbes: "Leviathan 
in Works, Ed. Moleswortb. Load. 1S8&-44, v. tti., p. W.) 


190 Capitalist Production. 

to that necessary for the production of those meana of sub 
sistence; in other words, the value of labour-power is the 
value of the means of subsistence necessary for the mainte 
nance of the labourer. Labour-power, however, becomes a 
reality only by its exercise; it sets itself in action only by 
working. But thereby a definite quantity of human muscle, 
nerve, brain, &c., is wasted, and these require to be restored. 
This increased expenditure demands a larger income. 1 If the 
owner of labour-power works to-day, to-morrow he must again 
be able to repeat the same process in the same conditions as 
regards health and strength. His means of subsistence must 
therefore be sufficient to maintain him in his normal state &s 
a labouring individual. His natural wants, such as food, 
clothing, fuel, and housing, vary according to the climatic and 
other physical conditions of his country. On the other hand, 
the number and extent of his so-called necessary wants, as also 
the modes of Satisfying them, are themselves the product of 
historical development, and depend therefore to a great extent 
on the degree of civilisation of a country, more particularly 
on the conditions unde^r which, and consequently on the habits 
and degree of comfort in which, the class of free labourers has 
been formed. 2 In contradistinction therefore to the case of 

I other commodities, there enters into the determination of the 
value oJL labour -power a historical and moral element. Never 
theless, in a given country, at a given period, the average 
quantity of the means of subsistence necessary for the labourer 
is practically known. 

The owner of labour-power is mortal. If then his appear 
ance in the market is to be continuous, and the continuous con 
version of money into capital assumes this, the seller of labour- 
power must perpetuate himself, "in the way that every living 
individual perpetuates himself, by procreation." 3 The labour- 
power withdrawn from the market by wear and tear and 
death, must be continually replaced by, at the very least, an 

* Hence the Roman Villicus, as orerlooker of the agricultural slaves, received 
"more meagre fare than working slaves, because his work was lighter." (Th. 
Mommsen, Rom. Geschicbte, 1856, p. 810.) 

* Compare W. H. Thornton : "Orerpopulation and it Remedy," Lend., 1846. 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 191 

amount of fresh labour-power. Hence the sum of the 
means of subsistence_necessary for the production of labour- 
power must include the means necessary for the labourer s 
substitutes, i.e., his children, in order that this race of peculiar 
commodity-owners may perpetuate its appearance in the 
market, 1 

In order to modify the human organism, so that it may ac 
quire skill and handiness in a given branch of industry, and 
become labour-power of a special kind, a special education or 
training is requisite, and this, on its part, costs an equivalent 
in commodities of a greater or less amo_unt. This amount 
varies according to the more or less complicated character of 
the labour-power. The expenses of Jiis education (excessive 
ly small in the case of ordinary labour-power), enter pro tanto 
into the total, value spent in its production. 

The value of labour-power resolves itself into the value of a 
definite quantity^ of tfae means ofsubsistencei it therefore 
varies with the value of these means or with the quantity of 
labour requisite fortheir production. 

Some of the means of subsistence, such as food and fuel, are 
consumed daily, and a fresh supply must be provided daily. 
Others such as clothes and furniture last for longer periods 
and require to be replaced only at longer intervals. One 
article must be bought or paid for daily, another weekly, 
another quarterly, and so on. But in whatever way the sum 
total of these outlays may be spread over the year, they must 
be covered by the average income, taking one day with an 
other. If the total of the commodities required daily for the 
production of labour-power=A, and those required weekly 
B, and those required quarterly C, and so on, the daily 
average of these commodities = 365A + 52 ^+ 4C + &c . Suppose that in 
this mass of commodities requisite for the average day there 
are embodied 6 hours of social labour, then there is incor- 

1 Its (labour s natural price. . . . consists in such a quantity of necessaries 
and comforts of life, as, from the nature of the climate, and the habits of the coun 
try, are necessary to support the labourer, and to enable him to rear such a family 
as may preserve, in the market, an undiminished supply of labour.** (R. Torrens: 
"An Essay on the external Corn Trade." Lond., 1816, p. 62.) The word labour is 
here used incorrectly for labour-power. ^ 

192 Capitalist Production. 

porated daily in labour-power half a day s average social 
labour, in other words, half a dav. a labour in requisite for the 
daily production of labour-power. This quantity of labour 
forms the value.joif a day s latxmr-power or the value of the 
labour-power daily reproduced. If half a day s average social 
labour is incorporated in three shillings, then three shillings 
is the price corresponding to the value of a day s labour-power. 
If its owner therefore offers it for sale at three shillings a 
day, its selling price is equal to its value, and according to our 
supposition, our friend Moneybags, who is intent upon con 
verting his three shillings into capital, pays this value. 

The minimum limit of the value of labour-power is deter 
mined by the value of the commodities, without the daily 
supply of which the labourer cannot renew jbis_vital egergr, 
consequently by the value j>f those means of subsistence that 
are physically indispensable. If the price of labour-power 
fall to this minimum, it falls below its value, since under such 
circumstances it can be maintained and developed only in a 
crippled state. But the value of every commodity is deter 
mined by the labour-time requisite to turn it out so as to be cf 
normal quality. 

It is a very cheap sort of sentimentality which declares this 
method of determining the value of labour-power, a method 
prescribed by the very nature of the case, to be a brutd 
method, and which wails with Rossi that, "To comprehend 
capacity for labour (puissance de travail) at the same time 
that we make abstraction from the means of subsistence of the 
labourers during the process of production, is to comprehend a 
phantom (etre de raison). When we speak of labour, or 
capacity for labour, we speak at the same time of the labourer 
and his means of subsistence, of labourer and wages." 1 Whe:a 
we speak of capacity for labour, we do not speak of labour, any 
more than when we speak of capacity for digestion, we spea!*: 
of digestion. The latter process requires something more than 
a good stomach. When we speak of capacity for labour we do 
not abstract from the necessary means of subsistence. On th 
contrary, their value is expressed in its value. If his capacit/ 

"Court d Ecoe. Polit: "Bnixelle*, 1843, p. t70. 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 193 

for labour remains unsold, the labourer derives no benefit from 
it, but rather he will feel it to be a cruel nature-imposed 
necessity that this capacity has cost for its production a de 
finite amount of the means of subsistence and that it will con 
tinue to do so for its reproduction. He will then agree with 
Sismondi : "that capacity for labour. ... is nothing unless it 
is sold." 1 

One consequence of the peculiar nature of labour-power as 
a commodity is, that its use-value does not, on the conclusion 
of this contract between the buyer and seller, immediately pass 
into the hands of the former. Its value, like that of every 
other commodity, is already fixed before it goes into circula 
tion, since a definite quantity of social labour has been spent 
upon it ; but its use-value consists in the subsequent exercise of 
it* } force. The alienation of labour-power and its actual ap 
propriation by the buyer, its employment as a use-value, are 
separated by an interval of time. But in those cases in which 
the formal alienation by sale of the use-value of a commodity, 
is not simultaneous with its actual delivery to the buyer, the 
money of the latter usually functions as means of payment. 2 
In every country in which the capitalist mode of production 
reigns, it is the custom not to pay for labour-power before it 
has been exercised for the period fixed by the contract, as for 
example, the end of each_week. In all cases, therefore, the 
use-value of the labour-power is advanced to the capitalist : the 
labourer allows the buyer to consume it before he receives pay 
ment of the price ; he everywhere gives credit to the capitalist. 
That this credit is no mere fiction, is shown not only by the 
occasional loss of wages on the bankruptcy of the capitalist, 3 
but also by a series of more enduring consequences. 4 Never- 

1 Sismondi: "Nouv. Princ. etc.," t. I. p. 112. 

* All labour is paid after it has ceased." ("An inquiry into those Principles re 
specting the nature of Demand," &c., p. 104.) "Le credit commercial a dti com- 
mencer au moment ou 1 ouvrier, premier artisan de la production, a pu, au rooyen de 
ses economies, attendre le salaire de son travail jusqu, 4 la fin de la semaine, de la 
quinzaine, du mois, du trimestre, &c. (Ch. Ganilh: "Des Systemes de 1 Econ. Polit." 
2e"me. edit. Paris, 1821, t. I. p. 150.) 

"L ouvrier prete son Industrie," but adds Storch slyly: he "risks nothing" 
except "de perdre son salaire .... L ouvrier ne transmet rien de materiel." 
(Storch: "Cours d Econ. Polit. Econ." Petersbourg, 1815, t. II., p. 87.) 

4 One example. In London there are two sorts of bakers, the "full priced," who 


194 Capitalist Production. 

theless, whether money serves as a means of purchase or as a 
means of payment, this makes no alteration in the nature of 
the exchange of commodities. The price of the labour-power 
is fixed by the contract, although it is not realised till later, 
like the rent of a house. The labour-power is sold, although 
it is only paid for at a later period. It will, therefore, be 
useful, for a clear comprehension of the relation of the parties, 
to assume provisionally, that the possessor of labour-power, on 
the occasion of each sale, immediately receives the price 
stipulated to be paid for it 

We now know how the value paid by the purchaser to tha 

sell bread at its full value, and the "undersellers," who sell it under its value. The 
latter class comprises more than three-fourths of the total number of bakers, (j. 
xxxii in the Report of H. S. Tremenheere, commissioner to examine into "the grie>- 
ances complained of by the journeymen bakers," &c., Lond. 1862.) The undersellen , 
almost without exception, sell bread adulterated with alum, soap, pearl ashes, chalk, 
Derbyshire stone-dust, and such like agreeable nourishing and wholesome ingred:- 
ents. (See the above cited blue book, as also the report of "the committee of 
1855 on the adulteration of bread," and Dr. Hassall s "Adulterations detected, 
2d Ed. Lond. 1862.) Sir John Gordon stated before the committee of 1855, that "i:t 
consequence of these adulterations, the poor man, who lives on two pounds cf 
bread a day, does not now get one fourth part of nourishing matter, let alone tit 
deleterious effects on his health." Tremenheere states (1. c, p. xlviii), as the rer- 
son, why a very large part of the working class, although well aware of this adu 
teration, nevertheless accept the alum, stone-dust, &c., as part of their purchas* : 
that it is for them "a matter of necessity to take from their baker or from the 
chandler s shop, such bread as they choose to supply." As they are not paid their 
wages before the nd of the week, they in their turn are unable "to pay for the 
bread consumed by their families, during the week, before the end of the week, 
and Tremenheere adds on the evidence of witnesses, "it is notorious that bread coir- 
posed of those mixtures, is made expressly for sale in this manner." In many 
English and still more Scotch agricultural districts, wages are paid fortnightly and 
even monthly; with such long intervals between the payments, the agricultural la 
bourer is obliged to buy on credit . . . He must pay higher prices, and is in 
fact tied to the shop which gives him credit. Thus at Horningham in Wilts, for ex 
ample, where the wages are monthly, the same flour that he could buy elsewhere 
at Is lOd per stone, costs him 2s 4d per stone. ("Sixth Report" on "Public Health 
by "The Medical Officer of the Privy Council, &c., 1864." p. 264.) "The bloc< 
printers of Paisley and Kilmarnock enforced, by a strike, fortnightly, instead cf 
monthly payment of wages." (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for Slit 
Oct, 1853," p. 34.) As a further pretty result of the credit given by tbs 
workmen to the capitalist, we may refer to the method current in many English 
coal mines, where the labourer is not paid till the end of the month, and ia 
the meantime, receives sums on account from the capitalist, often in goods fcr 
which the miner is obliged to pay more than the market price (Truck-system). 
"It is a common practice with the coal masters to pay once a month, and advance 
cash to their workmen at the end of each intermediate week. The cash is give 3 
in the shop" (. e., the Tommy shop which belongs to the master); "the men take 
it or one side and lay it out on the other." (Children s Employment Commie 
!on, III, Report, London, 1864, p. 88, L 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 195 

possessor of this peculiar commodity, labour-power, is de 
termined. The use-value which the former gets in exchange, 
manifests itself only in the actual usufruct, in the consump 
tion of the labour-power. The money owner buys every 
thing necessary for this purpose, such as raw material, in the 
market, and pays for it at its full value. The consumption 
of labour-power is at one and the same time the production of 
commodities and of surplus value. The consumption of 
labour-power is completed, as in the case of every other com 
modity, outside the limits of the market or of the sphere of 
circulation. Accompanied by Mr. Moneybags and by the 
possessor of labour-power, we therefore take leave for a time 
of this noisy sphere, where everything takes place on the sur 
face and in view of all men, and follow them both into the 
hidden abode of production, on whose threshold there stares 
us in the face "No admittance except on business." Here we 
shall see, not only how capital produces, but how capital is 
produced. We shall at last force the secret of profit making. 
This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries 
the sale and purchase of labour-power goes, is in fact a very 
Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, 
Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both 
buyer and seller of a commodity, say of labour-power, are 
constrained only by their- own free will. They contract a s 
free agents, and the agreement they come to, is but the form 
in which they give legal expression to their common will. 
Equality, because each enters into relation with the other, as 
with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange 
equivalent for equivalent Property, because each disposes 
only of what is his own. And Bentham, because each looks 
only to himself. The only force that brings them together and 
puts them in relation with each other, is the selfishness, the 
gain and the private interests of each. Each looks to himself 
only, and no one troubles himself about the rest, and just be 
cause they do so, do they all, in accordance with the pre- 
established harmony of things, or under the auspices of an 
all-shrewd providence, work together to their mutual advan 
tage, for the common weal and in the interest of all. 

196 Capitalist Production. 

On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange 
of. commodities, which furnishes the "Free-trader \ 7 ulgaris" 
with his views and ideas, and with the standard by which he 
judges a society based on capital and wages, we think we can 
perceive a change in the physiognomy of our dramatis persona*. 
He, who before was the money owner, now strides, in front as 
capitalist ; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. 
The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on busi 
ness ; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bring 
ing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but 
a hiding. 







THE capitalist buys labour-power in order to use it; and v 
labour-power in use is labour itself. The purchaser of labour- . 
power consumes it by setting the seller of it to work. By v 
working, the latter becomes actually, what before he only was 
potentially, labour-power in action, a labourer. In order that 
his labour may reappear in a commodity, he must, before all v 
things, expend it on something useful, on something capable / 
of satisfying a want of some sort. Hence, what the capitalist^ 
sets the labourer to produce, is a particular use-value, a ^/ 
specified article. The fact that the production of use-values, 
or goods, is carried on under the control of a capitalist and 
on his behalf, does not alter the general character of that 
production. We shall, therefore, in the first place, have to 
consider the labour-process independently of the particular 
form it assumes under given social conditions. 

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man 
and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord 
starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between 
himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of 


198 Capitalist Production. 

her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and 
hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate 
Nature s productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By 
thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the 
same time changes his own nature. He develops his slumber 
ing powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. 
We are not now dealing with those primitive instinctive forms 
of labour that remind us of the mere animal. An immeasur 
able interval of time separates the state of things in which a 
man brings his labour-power to market for sale as a commodity, 
from that state in which human labour was still in its first in 
stinctive stage. We presuppose labour in a form that stamps 
it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that 
resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an 
^ tLTchitect in the construction of her cells. But what distin- 
^/ guishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that 
\ the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects 
./ it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a re- 
; suit that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at 
yits. commencement. He not only effects a Change of form in 
v the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose 
of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to 
J which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination 
is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily 
organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, 
the workman s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose. 
This means close attention. The less he is attracted by the 
nature of the work, and the mode in which it is carried on, 
and the less, therefore, he enjoys it as something which gives 
play to his bodily and mental powers, the more close his at 
tention is forced to be. 

>J The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, tbe^per- 
i sonal activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that 
A work, and 3, its instruments. 

*J The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) 
\ in the virgin state in which it supplies 1 man with necessaries 

1 "The earth s spontaneous productions being in small quantity, and quite inde 
pendent of man, appear, as it were, to be furnished by Nature, in the same way as a 

The Labour Process. 199 

or the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently v 
of him, and is the universal subject of humajt labour. All iX 
those things which labour merely separates from immediate 
connection with their environment, are subjects of labour 
spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish which we 
catch and take from their element, water, timber which we 
fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their 
veins. If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so \Q^/ 
say, been filtered through previous labour, we call it 
material; such is ore already extracted and ready for 
ing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but not every 
subject of labour is raw material ; it can only become so, after vX 
it has undergone some alteration by means of labour. 

An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, ^/ 
which the labourer interposes between himself and the subject ,/ 
of his labour, and which serves as the conductor of his activity. ^ 
He makes use of the mechanical, physical, and chemical pro 
perties of some substances in order to make other substances 
subservient to his aims. 1 Leaving out of consideration such 
ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which* 
a man s own limbs serve as the instruments of his labour, the ^ 
first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the 
subject of labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes 
one of the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his 
own bodily organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the 
Bible. As the earth is his original larder, so too it is hisv/ 
original tool house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones^ 
for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, &c. The earth itself */ 
is an instrument of labour, but when used as such in agri-vX 
culture implies a whole series of other instruments and a com-^ 
paratively high development of labour. 2 No sooner does 

small sum is given to a young man, in order to put him in a way of industry, and 
of making his fortune." (James Steuart: "Principles of Polit. Econ." edit. Dub 
lin, 1770, v. I. p. 116.) 

1 "Reason is just as cunning as she is powerful. Her cunning consists principally 
in her mediating activity, which, by causing objects to act and re-act on each other 
in accordance with their own nature, in this way, without any direct interference 
in the process, carries out reason s intentions." (Hegel: "Encyklopadie, Erster 
Theil. Die Logik." Berlin, 1840, p. 382.) 

*In his otherwise miserable work ("Theorie de 1 Econ. Polit" Paris, 1819), 
Ganilh enumerates in a striking manner in opposition to the "Physiocrats" the 


200 Capitalist Production. 

labour undergo the least development, than it requires specially 
prepared instruments. Thus in the oldest caves we find stone 
implements and weapons. In the earliest period of human 
^history domesticated animals, i.e., animals which have been 
bred for the purpose, and have undergone modifications by 
means of labour, play the chief part as instruments of labour 
along with specially prepared stones, wood, bones, and shells. 1 
^xThe use and fabrication of instruments of labour, although 
existing in the germ among certain species of animals, is 
vX specificity characteristic of the human labour-process, and 
Franklin therefore defines man as a tool-making animal. 
Relics of by-gone instruments of labour possess the same im 
portance for the investigation of extinct economical forms oi 
society, as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct 
species of animals. It is notJlifi-ailicles made, but how they 
are^jnade, and by whaXJBstniments, that enables us to dis- 
^ tinguish ^ fl^rr^t Afn nmrn > R ] ^jw^ q 2 Instruments of labour 
^not only supply a standard of the degree of development to 
vwhich human labour has attained, but they are also indicators 1 
v6f the social conditions under which that labour is carried on. J 
Among the instruments of labour, those of a mechanical nature, 
which, taken as a whole, we may call the bone and muscles of 
production, offer much more decided characteristics of a given 
epoch of production, than those which, like pipe?, tubs, baskets, 
jars, &c., serve only to hold the materials for labour, which 
latter class, we may in a general way, call the vascular system 
of production. The latter first begins to play an important 
part in the chemical industries. 

In a wider sense we may include among the instruments of 

long series of previous processes necessary before agriculture properly so called 
can commence. 

1 Turgot in his "Reflexions sur la Formation et la Distribution des Ricbesses" 
(1766) brings well into prominence the importance of domesticated animals to 
early civilisation. 

* The least important commodities of all for the technological comparison of 
different epochs of production are articles of luxury, in the strict meaning of the 
term. However little our written histories up to this time notice the development of 
material production, which is the basis of all social life, and therefore of all real 
history, yet prehistoric times have been classified in accordance with the results, 
hot of so called historical, but of materialistic investigations. These periods bavr 
been divided, to correspond with the materials from which their implements and 
weapons are made, viz., into the stone, the bronze, and the iron ages. 

The Labour Process. 201 

labour, in addition to those things that are used for directly 
transferring labour to its subject, and which therefore, in one 
way or another, serve as conductors of activity, all such objects >/ y < 
as are necessary for carrying on the labour-process. These do 
not enter directly into the process, but without them it is either I/ 
impossible for it to take place at all, or possible only to 
partial extent Once more we find the earth to be a universa 
instrument of this sort, for it furnishes a locus standi to the 
labourer and a field of employment for his activity. Among 
instruments that are the result of previous labour and also 
belong to this class, we find workshops, canals, roads, and 

In the labour-process, therefore, man sjactivity, with the help ^< 
of the instruments of la^ojir. effects an alteration, designed - 
from the commencement, in the material worked upon. The ^ 
process disappears in the product ; the latter is a use-value, ^ 
Nature s material adapted by a change of form to the wants of 
man. Labour has incorporated itself with its subject : the forV 
mer is materialised, the latter transformed. That which in*/ 
the labourer appeared as movement, now appears in the prod- 
uct as a fixed quality without, motion^ The blacksmith forges 
and the product is a forging. 

If we examine the whole process from the point of view of 
its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and I/ 
the subject of laVjpur^ are me&ris of jrroduction. 1 and that the */ 
labour itself is productive labour. 2 

Though a use-value, in the form of a product, issues from ^ 
the labour-process, yet other use-values, products of previous ^_ 
labour, enter into it as means of production. The same use- ,__ 
value is both the product of a previous process, and a means of ^-- 
production in a later process. Producig^are theref nrp nnt 

results, but also jssential conditions of labour, 

With tEe~exception of the extractive industries, in which ^ 

1 It appears paradoxical to assert, that uncaught fish, for instance, are a means of 
production in the fishing industry. But hitherto no one has discovered the art of 
catching fish in waters that contain none. 

* This method of determining from the standpoint of the labour-process alone, 
what is productive labour, is by no means directly applicable to the case of the 
capitalist process of production. 

202 Capitalist Production. 

the material for labour is provided immediately by nature, 
such as mining, hunting, fishing, and agriculture (so far as the 
latter is confined to breaking up virgin soil), all branches of 
, industry manipulate raw material, objects already filtered 
through labour, already products of labour. Such is seed in 
agriculture. Animals and plants, which we are accustomed to 
consider as products of nature, are in their present form, not 
only products of, say last year s labour, but the result of a 
gradual transformation, continued through many generations, 
under man s superintendence, and by means of his labour. 
But in the great majority of cases, instruments of labour show 
even to the most superficial observer, traces of the. labour of 
past ages. 

Raw material may either form the principal substance of a 
^product, or it may enter into its formation only as an acces- 
i/ sory. An accessory may be consumed by the instruments of 
^-labour, as coal under a boiler, oil by a wheel, hay by draft- 
v horses, or it may be mixed with the raw material in order to 
-^produce some modification thereof, as chlorine into unbleached 
linen, coal with iron, dye-stuff with wool, or again, it may help 
v to carry on the work itself, as in the case of the materials used 
i/ for heating and lighting workshops. The distinction between 
principal substance and accessory vanishes in the true chemical 
industries, because there none of the raw material reappears, in 
its original composition, in the substance of the product. 1 
^ Every object possesses various properties, and is thus capable 
/ of being applied to different uses. One and the same product 
v/ may therefore serve as raw material in very different processes. 
J Corn, for example, is a raw material for millers, starch-manu 
facturers, distillers, and cattle-breeders. It also enters as raw 
material into its own production in the shape of seed : coal, too, 
is at the same time the product of, and a means of production 
in, coal-mining. 

Again, a particular product may be used in one and the same 

process, both as an instrument of labour and as raw material. 

V Take, for instance, the fattening of cattle, where the animal is 

1 Storch calls true raw materials "matieres," and accessory material "materiaux:" 
Cherbuliez describes accessories as "matieres instrumentale*." 

The Labour Process. 203 

the raw material, and at the same time an instrument for the 
production of manure. 

A product, though ready for immediate consumption, may^/ 
yet serve as raw material for a further product, as grapes when^// 
they become the raw material for wine. On the other hand,*-/ 
labour may give us its product in such a form, that we can use ,/ 
it only as raw material, as is the case with cotton, thread, andv/ 
yarn. Such a raw material, though itself a product, may have ^/ 
to go through a whole series of different processes : in each of ^/ 
these in turn, it serves, with constantly varying form, as raw 
material, until the last process of the series leaves it a perfect i/ 
product, ready for individual consumption, or for use as an */ 
instrument of labour. 

Hence we see, that whether a use-value is to be regarded 
raw material, as instrument of labour, or as product, this is 
termined entirely by its function in the labour process, by the / 
position it there occupies : as this varies, so does its character. v 

Whenever therefore a product enters as a means of produc 
tion into a new labour-process, it thereby loses its character of 
product, and becomes a mere factor in the process. A spinner 
treats spindles only as implements for spinning, and flax only 
as the material that he spins. Of course it is impossible to i_ 
spin without material and spindles ; and therefore the existence - 
of these things as products, at the commencement of the spin- .. 
ning operation, must be presumed : but in the process itself, the < 
fact that they are products of previous labour, is a matter of *- 
utter indifference ; just as in the digestive process, it is of no *~ 
importance whatever, that bread is the produce of the previous 
labour of the farmer, the miller, and the baker. On the con- u 
trary, it is generally by their imperfections as products, that v^_ 
the means of production in any process assert themselves in ^ 
their character as products. A blunt knife or weak thread L 
forcibly remind us of Mr. A., the cutler, or Mr. B., the spinner. ^ 
In the finished product the labour by means of which it has 
acquired its useful qualities is not palpable, has apparently - 

A machine which does not serve the purposes of labour, is 
useless. In addition, it falls a prey to the destructive influence *- 

2O4 Capitalist Production. 

of natural forces. Iron rusts and wood rots. Yarn with which 
we neither weave nor knit, is cotton wasted. Living labour 
must seize upon these things and rouse them from their death- 
sleep, change them from mere possible use-values into real and 
effective ones. Bathed in the fire of labour, appropriated as 
part and parcel of labour s organism, and, as it were, made 
alive for the performance of their functions in the process, they 
are in truth consumed, but consumed with a purpose, as ele 
mentary constituents of new use-values, of new products, ever 
ready as means of subsistence for individual consumption, or 
as means of production for some new labour-process. 

If then, on the one hand, finished products are. not only 

. results, but also necessary conditions, of the labour-process, on 

the other hand, their assumption into that process, their con- 

- tact with living labour, is the sole means by which they can be 

made to retain their character of use-values, and be utilised. 

Laboju_uses up its material factors, its subject and its in- 
strumejxts, consumes t]iem, and is therefore a process of con- 
sumntion. Such productive consumption is distinguished 
from individual consumption by this, that the latter uses up 
products, as means of^subsistence for the living individual ; the 
firmer, as means whereby alone, labour, the labour-power of 
the living individual, is enabled tp_ act. The product, there 
fore, of individual consumption, is the consumer himself; the 
result of productive consumption, is a product distinct from 
the consumer. 

In so far then, as its instruments and subjects are themselves 
products, labour consumes products in order to create products, 
or in other words, consumes one set of products by turning 
them into means of production for another set. But, just as 
in the beginning, the only participators in the labour-process 
were man and the^earth, which latter exists independently of 
man, so even now we still employ in the process many means 
of production, provided directly by nature, that do not repre 
sent any combination of natural substances with human labour. 

The labour process, resolved as above into its simple ele 
mentary factors, is human action with a view to the produc 
tion of use-values, appropriation of natural substances to hu- 

The Labour Process. 205 

man requirements; it is the necessary condition for effecting -- 
exchange of matter between man and Nature; it is the ever- r 
lasting nature-imposed condition of human existence, and **" 
therefore is independent of every social phase of that existence, 
or rather, is common to every such phase. It was, therefore, /- 
not necessary to represent our labourer in connexion with other 
labourers; man and his labour one one side, Nature and its 
materials on the other, sufficed. As the taste of the porridge 
does not tell you who grew the oats, no more does this simple 
process tell you of itself what are the social conditions under 
which it is taking place, whether under the slave-owner s brutal 
lash, or the anxious eye of the capitalist, whether Cincinnatus 
carries it on in tilling his modest farm or a savage in killing 
wild animals with stones. 1 

Let us now return to our would-be capitalist We left him 
just after he had purchased, in the open market, all the neces 
sary factors of the labouFprocess ; its objective factors, the 
means of production, as well as its subjective factor, labour-^- 
power. With the keen ye of an expert, hehad selected the 
means of production and the kind of labour-power best adapted 
to his particular trade, be it spinning, bootmaking, or any other 
kind. He then proceeds to consume the commodity, the la- t , 
bour-power that he has just bought, by causing the labourer, i- - 
the impersonation of that labour-power, to consume the means 
of production by his labour. The general character of the 
labour-process is evidently not changed by the fact, that 
labourer works for the capitalist instead of for himself ; 
over, the particular methods and operations employed in boot- 
making or spinning are not immediately changed by the inter 
vention of the capitalist. He must begin by taking the labour- 
power as he finds it in the market, and consequently be satis 
fied with labour of such a kind as would be found in the period 
immediately preceding the rise of the capitalists. Changes in 

*By a wonderful feat of logical acumen, Colonel Torrens has discovered in this 
stone of the savage the origin of capital. "In the first stone which he [the 
savage] flings at the wild animal he pursues, in the stick that he seizes to strike 
down the fruit which hangs above his reach, we see the appropriation of one 
article for the purpose of aiding in the acquisition of another, and thus discover the 
origin of capital. (R. Torrens: "An Esaajr on th Production of Wealth," 4c., 
pp. 70-71.) 

206 Capitalist Production. 

the methods of production by the subordination of labour to 
capital, can take place only at a later period, and therefore will 
have to be treated of in a later chapter. 

The labour-process, turned into the process by which the 
capitalist consumes labour-power, exhibits two characteristic 
phenomena. First, the labourer works under the control of 
the capitalist to whom his labour belongs ; the capitalist taking 
good care that the work is done in a proper manner, and that 
the means of production are used with intelligence, so that 
there is no unnecessary waste of raw material, and no wear and 
tear of the implements beyond what is necessarily caused by 
the work. 

Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist and 

not that of the labourer, its immediate producer. Suppose 

N that a capitalist pays for a day s labour-power at its value; 

v, then the right to use that power for a day belongs to him, just 

I as much as the right to use any other commodity, such as a 
horse that he has hired for the day. To the purchaser of a 
commodity belongs its qse. and the seller of labour-power, by 
giving his labour, does no more, in reality, than part with the 
use-value that he has sold. From the instant he steps into 
the workshop, the use-value of his labour-power, and therefore 
also its use, which is labour, belongs to the capitalist. By the 
purchase of labour-power, the capitalist incorporates labour, as 
a living ferment, with the lifeless constituents of the product. 
yFrom his point of view, the labour-process is nothing more 
than the consumption of the commodity purchased, i.e., of 
labour-power ; but this consumption cannot be effected except 
by supplying the labour-power with the means of production. 
The labour-process is a process between things that the capi 
talist has purchased, things that have become his property. 
s The product of this process also belongs, therefore, to him, just 
as much as does the wine which is the product of a process of 
fermentation completed in his cellar. 1 

1 "Products are appropriated before they are converted into capital; this conver 
sion doe not secure them from such appropriation." (Cherbuliez: "Riche ou 
Pauvre," edit. Paris, 1841, pp. 53, 64.) "The Proletarian, by selling his labour for 
a definite quantity of the necessaries of life, renounces all claim to a share in 
the product The mode of appropriation of the products remains the same a* 

The Labour Process. 207 


The product appropriated by the capitalist is a use-value, as J 
yarn, for example, or boots. But, although boots are, in one 
sense, the basis of all social progress, and our capitalist is a 
decided "progressist," yet he does not manufacture boots for 
their own sake. Us^-value is, by no means, the thing "qu on J 
aime pour lui-meme" in the production of commodities. Use- \ 
values are only produced by capitalists, because, and in so far ,\j 
as, they are the material substratum, the depositaries of ex 
change-value. Our capitalist hna_frF ft nV>JQ^f Q JTI Tri mxr : i n the 
first place, he wants to produce a use-value that has a Yfllne 
in exchange, that is to say, an article destined to be sold, a 
commodity; and secondly, he desires to produce a commodity 
whose value shall be greater than the sum of the values of the 
commodities used in its production, that is, of the means of 
production and the labour-power, that he purchased with his 
good money in the open market His aim is to produce not 
only a use-value, but a commodity also; not only use-value, 
but value; not only value, but at the same time surplus- 

It must be borne in mind, that we are now dealing with the 
production of commodities, and that, up to this point, we have 
only considered one aspect of the process. Just as commodities 
are, at the same time, use-values and values, so the process of 
producing them must be a labour^racess, and at the same 
time, a process of creating value. 1 

before; It is no way altered by the bargain we have mentioned. The product be 
longs exclusively to the capitalist, who supplied the raw material and the neces 
saries of life; and this is a rigorous consequence of the law of appropriation, a law 
whose fundamental principle was the very opposite, namely, that every labourer has 
an exclusive right to the ownership of what he produces." (1. c. p. 58.) "When 
the labourers receive wages for their labour .... the capitalist is then the 
owner not of the capital only" (he means the means of production) "but of the 
labour also. If what is paid as wages is included, as it commonly is, in the 
term capital, it is absurd to talk of labour separately from capital. The word 
capital as thus employed includes labour and capital both." (James Mill: "Ele 
ments of Pol. Econ.," &c., Ed. 1821, pp. 70, 71.) 

1 As has been stated in a previous note, the English language has two different 
expressions for these two different aspects of labour; in the Simple Labour-process, 
the process of producing Use- Values, it is Work; in the process of creation of 
Value, it is Labour, taking the term in its strictly economical sense. Ed. 

208 Capitalist Production. 

< Let us now examine production as a creation of value. 

We know that the value of each commodity is determined 
by the quantity of labour expended on and materialised in it, 
by the working-time necessary, under given social conditions, 
for its production. This rule also holds good in the case of 
the product that accrued to our capitalist, as the result of the 
labour-process carried on for him. Assuming this product to 
be 10 Ibs. of yarn, our first step is to calculate the quantity of 
labour realised in it. 

For spinning the yarn, raw material is required ; suppose in 
this case 10 Ibs. of cotton. We have no need at present to 
investigate the value of this cotton, for our capitalist has, we 
will assume, bought it at its full value, say of ten shillings. 
In this price the labour required for the production of the 
cotton is already expressed in terms of the average labour of 
society. We will further assume that the wear and tear of the 
spindle, which, for our present purpose, may represent all other 
instruments of labour employed, amounts to the value of 2s. 
If, then, twenty-four hours labour, or two working days., are 
required to produce the quantity of gold represented by tjgfilve 
shillings, we have here, to begin with, two days labour already 
incorporated in the yarn. 

We must not let ourselves be misled by the circumstance 
that the cotton has taken a new shape while the substance of 
the spindle has to a certain extent been used up. By the 
general law of value, if the value of 40 Ibs. of yarn = the value 
of 40 Ibs. of cotton -(-the value of a whole spindle, i.e., if the 
same working timers required to produce the commodities on 
either side of this equation, then 10 Ibs. of yarn are an equiva 
lent for 10 Ibs. of cotton, together with one-fourth of a spindle. 
In the case we are considering the same working time is ma 
terialised in the 10 Ibs. of yarn on the one hand, and in the 10 
Ibs. of cotton and the fraction of a spindle on the other. 
Therefore, whether value appears in cotton, in a spindle, or 
in yarn, makes no difference in the amount of that value. 
The spindle and cotton, instead of resting quietly side by side, 
join together in the process, their forms are altered, and they 
are turned into yarn; but their value is no more affected by 

The Labour Process. 209 

this fact than it would be if they had been simply exchanged 
for their equivalent in yarn. 

The labour required for the production of the cotton, the 
raw material of the yarn, is part of the labour necessary to 
produce the yarn, and is therefore contained in the yarn. The 
same applies to the labour embodied in the spindle, without 
whose wear and tear the cotton could not be spun. 

Hence, in determining the value of the yarn, or the labour- J 
time required for its production, all the special processes car-v 
ried on at various times and in different places, which were--- 
necessary, first to produce the cotton and the wasted portion of v * 
the spindle, and then with the cotton and spindle to spin the-./ 
yarn, may together be looked on as different and successive %/ 
phases of one and the same process. The whole of the labour v 
in the yarn is past labour ; and it is a matter of no importance 
that the operations necessary for the production of its con 
stituent elements were carried on at times which, referred to 
the present, are more remote than the final operation of spin 
ning. If a definite quantity of labour, say thirty days, is 
requisite to build a house, the total amount of labour incor 
porated in it is not altered by the fact that the work of the 
last day is done twenty-nine days later than that of the first. 
Therefore the labour contained in the raw material and the vj 
instruments of labour can be treated just as if it were labour 
expended in an earlier stage of the spinning process, before the v 
labour of actual spinning commenced. 

The values of the means of production, i.e., the cotton and^ 
the spindle, which values are expressed in the price of twelve 
shillings, are therefore constituent parts of the value of the^ 
Yarn, or, in other words, of the value of the product. 

Two conditions must nevertheless be fulfilled. First, the 
cotton and spindle must concur in the production of a use- 
value ; they must in the present case become yarn. Value is i 
independent of the particular use-value by which it is borne, I 
but it must be embodied in a use-value of some kind. Sec- 1 
ondly, the time occupied in the labor of production must not 
exceed the time really necessary under the given social con 
ditions of the case. Therefore, if no more than 1 Ib. of cotton 


2io Capitalist Production. 

be requisite to spin 1 Ib. of yarn, care must be taken that no 
more than this weight of cotton is consumed in the production 
of 1 Ib. of yarn; and similarly with regard to the spindle. 
Though the capitalist have a hobby, and use a gold instead of a 
steel spindle, yet the only labour that counts for anything in 
the value of the yarn is that which would be required to pro 
duce a steel spindle, because no more is necessary under the 
given social conditions. 

We now know what portion of the value of the yarn is owing 
to the cotton and the spindle. It amounts to twelve shillings 
or the value of two days work. The next point for our con 
sideration is, what portion of the value of the yarn is added 

tO the COttOn by the I^Krmr Vm irvnoy 

We have now to consider this labour under a very different 
aspect from that which it had during the labour-process ; there, 
we viewed it solely as that particular kind of human activity 
which changes cotton into yarn; there, the more the labour 
was suited to the work, the better the yarn, other circumstances 
remaining the same. The labour of the spinner was then 
viewed as specifically different from other kinds of productive 
labour, different on the one hand in its special aim, viz., spin 
ning, different, on the other hand, in the special character of its 
operations, in the special nature of its means of production and 
in the special use-value of its product. For the operation of 
spinning, cotton and spindles are a necessity, but for making 
rifled cannon they would be of no use whatever. Here, on the 
contrary, where we consider the labour of the spinner only so 
far as it is value-creating, i.e., a source of value, his labour dif 
fers in no respect from the labour of the man who bores cannon, 
or (what here more nearly concerns us), from the labour of the 
cotton-planter and spindle-maker incorporated in the means of 
production. It is solely by reason of this identity, that cotton 
planting, spindle making and spinning, are capable of forming 
the component parts, differing only quantitatively from each 
other, of one whole, namely, the value of the yarn. Here, we 
have nothing more to do with the quality, the nature and the 
specific character of the labour, but merely with its quantity. 
And this simply requires to be calculated. We proceed upon 

The Labour Process. 211 

the assumption that spinning is simple, unskilled labour, the 
average labour of a given state of society. Hereafter we shall 1 
see that the contrary assumption would make no difference. 

While the labourer is at work, his labour constantly under 
goes a transformation : from being motion, it becomes an object 
without motion ; from being the labourer working, it becomes 
the thing produced. At the end of one hour s spinning, that 
act is represented by a definite quantity of yarn; in other 
words, a definite quantity of labour, namely that of one hour, 
has become embodied in the cotton. We say labour, i.e., the 
expenditure of his vital force by the spinner, and not spinning 
labour, because the special work of spinning counts here, only 
so far as it is the expenditure of labour-power in general, and 
not in so far as it is the specific work of the spinner. 

In the process we are now considering it is of extreme inW 
portance, that no more time be consumed in the work of trans- 
forming the cotton into yarn than is necessary under the given 
social conditions. If under normal, i.e., average social condi 
tions of production, a pounds of cotton ought to be made into 
b pounds of yarn by one hour s labour, then a day s labour 
does not count as 12 hours labour unless 12 a pounds of cotton 
have been made into 12 b pounds of yarn; for in the creation / 
of value, the time that is socially necessary alone counts. 

Kot only the labour, but also the raw material and the pro- v 
duct now appear in quite a new light, very different from that v 
in which we viewed them in the labour-process pure and sim 
ple. The raw material serves now merely as an absorbent of ^ 
a definite quantity of labour. By this absorption it is in fact-^ 
changed into yarn, because it is spun, because labour-power 
in the form of spinning is added to it; but the product, the >/, 
yarn, is now nothing more than a measure of the labour ab- ^ 
sorbed by the cotton. If in one hour 1$ Ibs. of cotton can be ^ 
spun into If Ibs. of yarn, then 10 Ibs. of yarn indicate the 
absorption of 6 hours labour. TVfini^ q"*d&MMUQ product, 
these quantities being determined by experience, now represent 
nothing but definite quantities of labour, definite masses of 
crystallized labour-time. They are nothing more than the 


212 Capitalist Production. 

J materialisation of so many hours or so many days of social 
J labour. 

j We are here no more concerned about the facts, that the 

j labour is the specific work of spinning, that its subject is cotton 

^and its product yarn, than we are about the fact that the sub- 

jject itself is already a product and therefore raw material. 

If the spinner, instead of spinning, were working in a coal 

mine, the subject of his labour, the coal, would be supplied by 

J . Nature ; nevertheless, a definite quantity of extracted coal, a 

J hundred weight, for example, would represent a definite quan- 

tity of absorbed labour. 

We assumed, on the occasion of its sale, that the value of 
a day!a labour-power is tiw^e- shillings, and that six hours la- 
bour are incorporated in that sum ; and consequently that this 
amount of labour is requisite to produce the necessaries of life 
daily required on an average by the labourer. If now our 
spinner by working for one hour, can convert If Ibs. of cotton 
into If Ibs. of yarn, 1 it follows that in six hours he will convert 
/ 10 Ibs. of cotton into 10 Ibs. of yarn. Hence, during the spin- 
^ process, the cotton absorbs six hours labour. The same 

uantity of labour is also embodied in a piece of gold of the 
\/value of three shillingsJ w Consequently by the mere labour of 
v /spinning, a value of three shillings is added to the cotton. 

Let us now consider the total value of the product, the 10 
Ibs. of yarn. Two and a half days labour have been embodied 
in it, of which two days were contained in the cotton and in 
the substance of the spindle worn away, and half a day was 
absorbed during the process of spinning. This two and a half 
days labour is also represented by a piece of gold of the value 
of fifteen shillings. Hence, fifteen shillings is an adequate 
price for the 10 Ibs. of yarn, or the price of one pound is eight- 

Our capitalist stares in astonishment. The value of the 
product is exactly equal to the value of the capital advanced. 
The value so advanced has not expanded, no surplus-value has 
been created, and consequently money has not been converted 
into capital. The price of the yarn is fifteen shillings, and 

1 These figure* are quite arbitrary. 

The Labour Process. 213 

fifteen shillings were spent in the open market upon the con 
stituent elements of the product, or, what amounts to the same 
thing, upon the factors of the labour-process ; ten shillings were 
paid for the cotton, two shillings for the substance of the spin 
dle worn away, and three shillings for the labour-power. The 
ewollen value of the yarn is of no avail, for it is merely the 
sum of the values formerly existing in the cotton, the spindle, 
and the labour-power ; out of such a simple addition of existing 
values, no surplus-value can possibly arise. 1 These separate 
values are now all concentrated in one thing ; but so they were j 
also in the sum of fifteen shillings, before it was split up into / 
three parts, by the purchase of the commodities. 

There is in reality nothing very strange in this result. The 
value of one pound of yarn being eighteenpence, if our capita 
list buys 10 Ibs. of yarn in the market, he must pay fifteen 
shillings for them. It is clear that, whether a man buys his 
house ready built, or gets it built for him, in neither case will 
the mode of acquisition increase the amount of money laid out 
on the house. 

Our capitalist, who is at home in his vulgar economy, ex 
claims : "Oh ! but I advanced my money for the express pur 
pose of making more money." The way to Hell is paved with 
good intentions, and he might just as easily have intended to 
make money, without producing at all. 2 He threatens all sorts 
of things. He won t be caught napping again. In future he 
will buy the commodities in the market, instead of manufac 
turing them himself. But if all his brother capitalists were to 
do the same, where would he find his commodities in the mar 
ket? And his money he cannot eat. He tries persuasion. 

1 This is the fundamental proposition on which is based the doctrine of the 
Physiocrats as to the unproductiveness of all labour that is not agriculture: it is 
irrefutable for the orthodox economist. "Cette fac.on d imputer a une seule chose 
la valeur de plusieurs autres" (par exemple au lin la consommation du tisserand), 
"d appliquer, pour ainsi dire, couche sur couche, plusieurs valeurs sur une seule, 
fait que celle-ci grossit d autant . . . . Le terme d addition peint tres-bien la 
maniere dont se forme le prix des ouvrages de main-d ceuvre; ce prix n est qu un 
total de plusieurs valeurs consommees et additionees ensemble; or, additionner n est 
pas multiplier." ("Mercier de la Riviere," 1. c., p. 599.) 

* Thus from 1844-47 he withdrew part of his capital from productive employment, 
in order to throw it away in railway speculations; and so also, during the Ameri 
can Civil War, he closed his factory, and turned his work-people into the streets, 
in order to gamble on the Liverpool cotton exchange. 

214 Capitalist Production. 

"Consider my abstinence; I might have played ducks and 
drakes with the 15 shillings; but instead of that I consumed 
it productively, and made yarn -with it." Very well, and by 
way of reward he is now in possession of good yarn instead 
of a bad conscience; and as for playing the part of a miser, 
it would never do for him to relapse into such bad ways as 
that; we have seen before to what results such asceticism 
leads. Besides, where nothing is, the king has lost his rights : 
whatever may be the merit of his abstinence, there is nothing 
wherewith specially to remunerate it, because the value of the 
product is merely the sum of the values of the commodities 
that were thrown into the process of production. . Let him 
therefore console himself with the reflection that virtue is its 
own reward. But no, he becomes importunate. He says: 
"The yarn is of no use to me: I produced it for sale." In 
that case let him sell it, or, still better, let him for the future 
produce only things for satisfying his personal wants, a rem 
edy that his physician M Culloch has already prescribed as 
infallible against an epidemic of over-production. He now 
gets obstinate. "Can the labourer," -he asks, "merely with 
his arms and legs, produce commodities out of nothing ? Did 
I not supply him with the materials, by means of which, and 
in which alone, his labour could be embodied? And as the 
greater part of society consists of such ne er-do-weels, have I 
not rendered society incalculable service by my instruments 
of production, my cotton and my spindle, and not only society, 
but the labourer also, whom in addition I have provided with 
the necessaries of life ? And am I to be allowed nothing in 
return for all this service?" Well, but has not the labourer 
rendered him the equivalent service of changing his cotton 
and spindle into yarn ? Moreover, there is here no question of 
service. 1 A service is nothing more than the useful effect of 

1 Extol thyself, put on finery and adorn thyself . . . but whoever takes more 
or better than he gives, that is usury, and is not service, but wrong done to his 
neighbour, as when one steals and robs. All is not service and benefit to a neigh 
bour that is called service and benefit For an adulteress and adulterer do one 
another great service and pleasure. A horseman does an incendiary a great serv 
ice, by helping him to rob on the highway, and pillage land and houses. The 
papists do ours a great service in that they don t drown, burn, murder all of 
them, or let them all rot in prison; but let some live, and only drive them out, 

The Labour Process. 215 

a use-value, be it of a commodity, or be it of labour. 1 But 
here we are dealing with exchange-value. The capitalist paid 
to the labourer a value of 3 shillings, and the labourer gave 
him back an exact equivalent in the value of 3 shillings, added 
by him to the cotton: he gave him value for value. Our 
friend, up to this time so purse-proud, suddenly assumes the 
modest demeanour of his own workman, and exclaims : "Have 
I myself not worked? Have I not performed the labour of 
superintendence and of overlooking the spinner ? And does 
not this labour, too, create value ?" His overlooker and his 
manager try to hide their smiles. Meanwhile, after a hearty 
laugh, he re-assumes his usual mien. Though he chanted to 
us the whole creed of the economists, in reality, he says, he 
would not give a brass farthing for it. He leaves this and all 
such like subterfuges and juggling tricks to the professors of 
political economy, who are paid for it. He himself is a prac 
tical man; and though he does not always consider what he 
says outside his business, yet in his business he knows what 
he is about. 

Let us examine the matter more closely. The value of a 
dfly a ]flhrmr-pmyer amounts to 3 shillings, because on our as- 
sumption half a day s labour is embodied in that quantity of 
labour-power, i.e., because the means of subsistence that are 
dally required for the production of labour-power, cost half a 
day s labour. But the past labour that is embodied in the 
labour-power, and the living labour that it can call into action ; 
the daily cost of maintaining it,, and its daily expenditure in v 
work, are two totally different things.* The former determines "* 
the exchange-value of the labour-power, the latter is its use- 
value. The fact that half a day s labour is necessary to 
the labourer alive during 24 Virmra., does not in any way pre 
vent him fm wHqnfi n Tvhvlft day Therefore, the^value of 
labour-power, and the value which_that labour-power creates 

or take from them what they have. The devil himself does his servants inestimable 
service . . . To sum up, the world is full of great, excellent, and daily service 
and benefit." (Martin Luther: "An die Pfarherrn, wider den Wucher zu 
piedigen," Wittenberg, 1540.) 

*In "Critique of Pol. EC.," p. 34, I make the following remark on this point "It 
is not difficult to understand what service the category service* must render to a 
class of economists like J. B. Say and F. Bastiat." 

216 Capitalist Production. 

in foe labour process, are two entirely different magnitudes ; 
and this difference of the two values was what the capitalist 
had in view, when he was purchasing the labour-power. The 
useful qualities that labour-power possesses, and by virtue of 
which it makes yarn or boots, were to him nothing more than 
a conditio sine qua non; for in order to create value, labour 
must be expended in a useful manner. What really influenced 
him was the specific use-value which this commodity possesses 
of being a source not only of value, but of more value than it 
has itpelf. This is the special service that the capitalist ex 
pects from labour-power, and in this transaction he acts in ac 
cordance with the "eternal laws" of the exchange of commodi- 
^ ties. The seller of labour-power, like the seller of any other 
./commodity, realises its exchange-value, and parts wiiji ita HM- 
i/ value. He cannot take the one without giving the other. The 
use-value ?* ]flbonr-pmvp.r T nr in other words r labour, belongs 
j just as little to its seller, as the use-value of oil after it has 
been sold belongs to the dealer who has sold it The owner 
of the money has paid the value of a day s labour-power ; his, 
herefore, is the ujse of it for a day ; a day s labour__hglongs to 
C^fhim. The circumstance, that on the one hand the daily sus 
tenance of labour-power costs only half ajiay s labour, while 
> on the other hand the very same labour-power can work during 
, ^ a whole day, that consequently the value which its use during 
v one day creates, is double what he pays for that use, this cir- 
y -/cumstance is, without doubt, a piece of good luck for the 
\ ) ^uyer, but by no means an injury to the seller. 

Our capitalist foresaw this state of things, and that was the 
cause of his laughter. The labourer therefore finds, in the 
workshop, the means of production necessary for working, not 
only during six, but during twelve hours. Just as during the 
six hours process our 10 Ibs. of cotton absorbed six hours 
labour, and became 10 Ibs. of yarn, so now, 20 Ibs. of cotton 
will absorb 12 hours labour and be changed into 20 Ibs. of 
yarn. Let us now examine the product of this prolonged 
process. There is now materialised in this ^0 Ibs. of yarn the 
labour of five days, of which four days are due to the cotton 
and the lost steel of the spindle, the remaining day having 

abour Process. 217 

been absorbed by the cotton during the spinning process. Ex- 
pressed in gold, the labour of five days is thirty shillings. 
This is therefore the price of the 20 Ibs. of yarn, giving, as 
before, eighteenpence as the price of a pound. But the sum 
of the values of the commodities that entered into the process 
amounts to 27 shillings. The value of the yarn is 30 shillings. 
Therefore the value of the product is ^ greater than the value 
advanced for its production ; 27 shillings have been trans 
formed into 30 shillings ; a surplus-value of 3 shillings has 
been created. The trick has at last succeeded; money has 
been converted into capital. 

Every condition of the problem is satisfied, while thq laws 
that regulate the exchange of commodities, have been in no 
way violated. Equivalent has been exchanged for ~~" : 1 * 

For the capitalist as buyer paid for each commodity, for the / 
cotton, the spindle and the labour-power, its full value. He / 
then did what is done by every purchaser of commodities ; TieV 
consumed their use-value. The consumption of the labour- 
power, which was also the process of producing commodities, 
resulted in 20 Ibs. of yarn, having a value of 30 shillings. 
The capitalist, formerly a buyer, now returns to market as a / 
seller, of commodities. He sells his yarn at eighteenpence a^ 
pound, which is its exact value. Yet for all that he with-" 
draws 3 shillings more from circulation than he originally v 
threw into it. This metamorphosis, this conversion of money 
into capital, takes place both within the sphere of circulation 
and also outside it; within the circulation, because conditioned 
by the purchase of the labour-power in t.hp. market ; outside the 
circulation, because what is done within it is only a stepping- 
stone to the production of surplus-value, a process which is 
entirely confined to the sphere of production. Thus "tout est 
pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles." 

By turning his money into commodities that serve as the 
material elements of a new product, and as factors in the la 
bour-process, by incorporating living labour with their dead 
substance, the capitalist at the same time converts value, i.e., 
past, materialised, and dead labour into capital, into value big 
with value, a live monster that is fruitful and multiplies. 

218 Capitalist Production. 

\ If we now compare the two processes of producing value and 
\ of creating surplus-value, we see that the latter is nothing but 
^the continuation of the former beyond a definite point. If on 
the one hand the process be not Carried beyond the point, 
x where the value paid by the capitalist^ for the labour-power is 
replaced by an exact equivalent, it is simply a process of pro 
ducing value; if, on the other hand, it be continued beyond 
that point, it becomes a process of creating surplus-value. 

If we proceed further, and compare the process^pf producing 
x value with the labour-process, pure and simple, we find that 
i the latter consists of the useful labour, the work, that produces 
use-values. Here we contemplate the labour as producing a 
particular article ; we view it under its qualitative aspect alone, 
with regard to its end and aim. But viewed as a valujs-creat- 
ing process, the same labour-process presents itself under its 
* quantitative aspect alone. Here it is a question merely of the 
. time_ occupied by the labourer in doing; the \yorjt ; of the period 
during which the labour-power is usefully expended. Here, 
v the commodities that take part in the process, do not count 
any longer as necessary adjuncts of labour-power in the pro 
duction of a definite, useful object. They count merely as 
depositaries of so much absorbed or materialised labour; that 
labour, whether previously embodied in the means of produc 
tion, or incorporated in them for the first time during the 
process by the action of labour-power, counts in either case 
only according to its duration ; it amounts to so many hours or 
days as the case may be. 

Moreover, only so much of the time spent in the production 
of any article is counted, as, under the given social conditions, 
is necessary. The consequences of this are various. In the 
first place, it becomes necessary that the labour should be 
carried on under normal conditions. If a self-acting mule is 
the implement in general use for spinning, it would be absurd 
to supply the spinner with a distaff and spinning wheel. The 
cotton too must not be such rubbish as to cause extra waste in 
being worked, but must be of suitable quality. Otherwise the 
spinner would be found to spend more timo in producing a 
pound of yarn than is socially necessary, in which case the 

The Labour Process. 219 

excess of time would create neither value nor money. But 
whether the material factors of the process are of normal 
quality or not, depends not upon the labourer, but entirely 
upon the capitalist. Then again, the labour-power itself must 
be of average efficacy. In the trade in which it is being em 
ployed, it must possess the average skill, handiness and quick 
ness prevalent in that trade, and our capitalist took good care 
to buy labour-power of such normal goodness. This power 
must be applied with the average amount of exertion and with 
the usual degree of intensity; and the capitalist is as careful 
to see that this is done, as that his workmen are not idle for a 
single moment. He has bought the use of the labour-power 
for a definite period, and he insists upon his rights. He has 
no intention of being robbed. Lastly, and for this purpose our \/ 
friend has a penal code of his own, all wasteful consumption of^ 
raw material or instruments of labour is strictly forbidden, be-. 1 - 
cause what is so wasted, represents labour superfluously ex-|uX 
pended, labour that does not count in the product or enter into - 
its value. 1 

We now see, that the difference between labour, considered * 
on the one hand as producing utilities, and on the other hand, ^ 

1 This is one of the circumstances that makes production by slave labour such 
a costly process. The labourer here is, to use a striking expression of the ancients, 
distinguishable only as instrumentum vocale, from an animal as instrumentum 
semi-vocale, and from an implement as instrumentum mutum. But he himself 
takes care to let both beast and implement feel that he is none of them, but is a 
man. He convinces himself with imnvnse satisfaction, that he is a different being, 
by treating the one unmercifully and damaging the other con amore. Hence the 
principle, universally applied in this method of production, only to employ the rudest 
and heaviest implements and such as are difficult to damage owing to their sheer 
clumsiness. In the slave-states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, down to the date 
of the civil war, ploughs constructed on old Chinese models, which turned up the 
soil like a hog or a mole, instead of making furrows, were alone to be found. Conf. 
J. C. Cairns. "The Slave Power," London, 1862, p. 46-49. In his "Sea Board 
Slave States," Olmsted tells us: "I am here shown tools that no man in his senses, 
with us, would allow a labourer, for whom he was paying wages, to be incumbered 
with; and the excessive weight and clumsiness of which, I would judge, would make 
work at least ten per cent greater than with those ordinarily used with us. And I 
am assured that, in the careless and clumsy way they must be used by the slaves, 
anything lighter or less rude could not be furnished them with good economy, and 
that such tools as we constantly give our labourers and find our profit in giving 
them, would not last out a day in a Virginia cornfield much lighter and more 
free from stones though it be than ours. So, too, when I ask why mules are so 
universally substituted for horses on the farm, the first reason given, and confessedly 
the most conclusive one, is that horses cannot bear the treatment that they always 
must get from the negroes; horses are always soon foundered or crippled by them, 

22O Capitalist Production. 

v^ as creating value, a difference which we discovered bj- our 
analysis of a commodity, resolves itself into a distinction be 
tween two aspects of the process of production. 

The process of production, considered on the one hand as 

. 1 the unity of the labour-process and the process overeating 

* value, is production of commodities ; considered on the other 

hand as the unity of the labour-process and the process of pro- 

jducing surplus-value, it is the capitalist process of production, 

JOT capitalist production of commodities. 

We stated, on a previous page, that in the creation of 
surplus-value it does not in the least matter, whether the labour 
appropriated by the capitalist be simple unskilled labour of 
average quality or more complicated skilled labour. All 
labour of a higher or more complicated character than averago 
labour is expenditure of labour-power of a more costly kind, 
labour-power whose production has cost more time and labour, 
and which therefore has a higher value, than unskilled or 
simple labour-power. This power being of higher value, its 
consumption is labour of a higher class, labour that creates ir 
equal times proportionally higher values than unskilled labour 
does. Whatever difference in skill there may be between the 

v labour of a spinner and that of a jeweller, the portion of his 
labour by which the jeweller merely replaces the value of his 

1 own labour-power, does not in any way differ in quality from 
the additional gortioji by which he creates surplus-value. In \ 
the making of jewellery, just as in spinning, the surplus-value 
results only from a quantitative excess of labour, from a 
lengthening-out of one and the same labour-process, in the one 
case, of the process of making jewels, in the other of the pro 
cess of making yarn. 1 

while mules will bear cudgelling, or lose a meal or two now and then, and not be 
materially injured, and they do not take cold or get sick, if neglected or over 
worked. But I do not need to go further than the window of the room in which I 
am writing, to see at almost any time, treatment of cattle that would ensure the im 
mediate discharge of the driver by almost any farmer owning them in the North.** 

1 The distinction between skilled and unskilled labour rests in part on pure illu 
sion, or, to say the least, on distinctions that have long since ceased to be real, and 
that survive only by virtue of a traditional convention; in part on the helpless con 
dition of some groups of the working-class, a condition that prevents them from 
exacting equally with the rest the value of their labour-power. Accidental cir 
cumstances here play so great a part, that these two forms of labour sometimes 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 221 

But on the other hand, in every process of creating value, 
the reduction of skilled labour to average social labour, e.g., 
one day of skilled to six days of unskilled labour, is un 
avoidable. 1 We therefore save ourselves a superfluous oper 
ation, and simplify our analysis, by the assumption, that the 
labour of the workman employed by the capitalist is unskilled 
average labour. 



THE various factors of the labour-process play different parts 
in forming the value of the product. 

The labourer adds fresh value to the subject of his labour 
by expending upon it a given amount of additional labour, no 
matter what the specific character and utility of that labour 
may be. On the other hand, the values of the means of pro 
duction used up in the process are preserved, and present 

change places. Where, for instance, the physique of the working-class has deterio 
rated, and is, relatively speaking, exhausted, which is the case In all countries with a 
well developed capitalist production, the lower forms of labour which demand great 
expenditure of muscle, are in general considered as skilled, compared with much 
more delicate forms of labour; the latter sink down to the level of unskilled labour. 
Take as an example the labour of a bricklayer, which in England occupies a much 
higher level than that of a damask-wearer. Again, although the labour of a fustian 
cutter demands great bodily exertion, and is at the same time unhealthy, yet it 
counts only as unskilled labour. And then, we must not forget, that the so-called 
skilled labour does not occupy a large space in the field of national labour. Laing 
estimates that in England (and Wales) the livelihood of 11,800,000 people depends 
on unskilled labour. If from the total population of 18,000,000 living at the time 
when he wrote, we deduct 1,000,000 for the "genteel population," and 1,600,000 
for paupers, vagrants, criminals, prostitutes, 4c., and 4,650,000 who compose the 
middle-class, there remain the above mentioned 11,000,000. But in his middle-class 
he includes people that live on the interest of small investments, officials, men of 
letters, artists, schoolmasters and the like, and in order to swell the number he also 
includes in these 4,650,000 the better paid portion of the factory operatives 1 The 
bricklayers, too, figure amongst them. (S. Laing: "National Distress," &c., London, 
1844.) "The great class who have nothing to give for food but ordinary labour, are 
the great bulk of the people." (James Mill, in art: "Colony," Supplement to the 
Encyclop. Brit., 1831.) 

1 "Where reference is made to labour as a measure of value, it necessarily implies 
labour of one particular kind . . .the proportion which the other kinds bear to it 
being easily ascertained." ("Outlines of Pol. Econ.," Lond., 1832, pp. 22 and 23.) 

222 Capitalist Production. 

themselves afresh as constituent parts of the value of the pro 
duct ; the values of the cotton and the spindle, for instance, re 
appear again in the value of the yarn. The value of the 
means of production is therefore preserved, by being trans 
ferred to the product. This transfer takes place during the 
conversion of those means into a product, or in other words, 
during the labour-process. It is brought about by labour; but 
how ? 

The labourer does not perform two operations at once, one 
in order to add value to the cotton, the other in order to pre 
serve the value of the means of production, or, in what amounts 
to the same thing, to transfer to the yarn, to the product, the 
value of the cotton on which he works, and part of the valuo 
of the spindle with which he works. But, by the very act o:f 
adding new value, he preserves their former values. Since, 
however, the addition of new value to the subject of his labour, 
and the preservation of its former value, are two entirely dis 
tinct results, produced simultaneously by the labourer, during 
one operation, it is plain that this twofold nature of the re 
suit can be explained only by the twofold nature of his labour 
at one and the same time, it must in one character create value, 
and in another character preserve or transfer value. 

Now, in what manner does every labourer add new labour 
and consequently new value ? Evidently, only by labouring 
productively in a particular way ; the spinner by spinning, the 
weaver by weaving, the smith by forging. But, while thus 
incorporating labour generally, that is value, it is by the par 
ticular form alone of the labour, by the spinning, the weaving 
and the forging respectively, that the means of production, the 
cotton and spindle, the yarn and loom, and the iron and anvil 
become constituent elements of the product, of a new use- 
value. 1 Each use-value disappears, but only to re-appear 
under a new form in a new use-value. Now, we saw, when 
we were considering the process of creating value, that, if a 
use-value be effectively consumed in the production of a new 
use-value, the quantity of labour expended in the production 

1 "Labour give* a new creation for one extinguished." ("A essay on the Polit. 
Econ. of Nations," London, 1881, p. 13.) 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 223 

of the consumed article, forms a portion of the quantity of 
labour necessary to produce the new use-value ; this portion is 
therefore labour transferred from the means of production to 
the newjDrpduct. Hence, the labourer preserves the values of 
the consumed means of production, or transfers them as por 
tions of its value to the product, not by virtue of his additional 
labour, abstractedly considered, but by virtue of the particular 
useful character of that labour, by virtue of its special pro 
ductive form. In so far then as labour is such specific produc 
tive activity, in so far as it is spinning, weaving, or forging, 
it raises, by mere contact, the means of production from the 
dead, makes them living factors of the labour-process, and 
combines with them to form the new products. 

If the special productive labour of the workman were not 
spinning, he could not convert the cotton into yarn, and there 
fore could not transfer the values of the cotton and spindle to 
the yarn. Suppose the same workman were to change his 
occupation to that of a joiner, he would still by a day s labour 
add value to the material he works upon. Consequently, we 
see, first, that the addition of new value takes place not by 
virtue of his labour being spinning in particular, or joinering 
in particular, but because it is labour in the abstract, a portion 
of the total labour of society ; and we see next, that the value 
added is of a given definite amount, not because his laTxmr 
has a special utility, but because it is exerted^forajlfinite 
time. On the one hand, then, it is by virtue^of itsgeneral 
character, as being expenditure of human labour-power in the 
abstract, that spinning adds new value to the values of the 
cotton and the spindle; and on the other hand, it is by virtue 
of its special character, as being a concrete, useful process, that 
the same labour of spinning both transfers the values of the 
means of production to the product, and preserves them in the 
product. Hence at one and the same time there is produced a 
twofold result 

By the simple addition of a certain quantity of labour, 
new value is added, and by the quality of this added labour, 
the original values of the means of production are preserved 
in the product This twofold effect, resulting from the two- 

224 Capitalist Production. 

fold character of labour, may be traced in various phenomena. 
Let us assume, that some invention enables the spinner to 
spin as much cotton in, 6 hours as he was able to spin before in 
36 hours. His labour is now six times as effective as it was, 
for the purposes of useful production. The product of 6 
hours work has increased sixfold, from 6 Ibs. to 36 Ibs. But 
now the 36 Ibs. of cotton absorb only the same amount of 
labour as formerly did the 6^1bs. One-sixth as much new 
labour is absorbed by each pound of _ cotton, and consequently, 
the value added by the labour to each pound is only one-sixth 
of what it formerly was. On the other hand, in the product, 
in the 36 Ibs. of yarn, the value transferred from the cotton i;i 
six times as great as before. By the 6 hours spinning, tho 
value of the raw material preserved and transferred to thu 
product is six times as great as before, although the new value 
added by the labour of the spinner to each pound of the very 
same raw material is one-sixth what it was formerly. Thiti 
shows that the two properties of labour, by virtue of whict 
it is enabled in one case to preserve value, and in the other to 
create value, are essentially different. On the one hand, the 
longer the time necessary to spin a given weight of cotton intc 
yarn, the greater is the new value added to the material; on 
the other hand, the greater the weight of the cotton spun in a J 
given time, the greater is the value preserved, by being trans- 
ferred from it to the product. 

Let us now assume, that the productiveness of the spinner s 
labour, instead of varying, remains constant, that he therefore 
requires the same time as he formerly did, to convert one 
pound of cotton into yarn, but that the exchange value of the 
cotton^varies, either by rising to six times its former value or 
falling to one-sixth of that value. In both these cases, the 
spinner puts the same quantity of labour into a pound of cot 
ton, and therefore adds as much value, as he did before the 
change in the value : he also produces a given weight of yarn in 
the same time as he did before. Nevertheless, the value that 
he transfers from the cotton to the yarn is either one-sixth 
of what it was before the variation, or, as the case may be, 
eix times as much as before. The same result occurs when the 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 225 

value of the instruments of labour rises or falls, while their 
useful efficacy in the process remains unaltered. 

Again, if the technical conditions of the spinning process re 
main unchanged, and no change of value takes place in the 
means of production, the spinner continues to consume in 
equal working-times equal quantities of raw material, and 
equal quantities of machinery of unvarying value. The value 
that he preserves in the product is directly proportional to the 
new value that he adds to the product. In two weeks he incor 
porates twice as much labour, and therefore twice as much 
value, as in one week, and during the same time he consumes 
twice as much material, and wears out twice as much ma 
chinery, of double the value in each case; he therefore pre 
serves, in the product of two weeks, twice as much value as in 
the product of one week. So long as the conditions of produc 
tion remain the same, the more value the labourer adds by 
fresh labour, the more value he transfers and preserves; but 
he does so merely because this addition of new value takes place 
under conditions that have not varied and are independent of 
his own labour. Of course, it may be said in one sense, that 
the labourer preserves old value always in proportion to the 
quantity of new value that he adds. Whether the value of 
cotton rise from one shilling to two shillings, or fall to six 
pence, the workman invariably preserves in the product of one 
hour only one half as much value as he preserves in two hours. 
In like manner, if the productiveness of his own labour varies 
by rising or falling, he will in one hour spin either more or less 
cotton, as the case may be, than he did before, and will con 
sequently preserve in the product of one hour, more or less 
value of cotton; but, all the same, he will preserve by two 
hours labour twice as much value as he will by one. 

Value exists only in articles of utility, in objects : we leave 
out of consideration its purely symbolical representation by 
tokens. (Man himself, viewed as the impersonation of labour- 
power, is a natural object, a thing, although a living conscious 
thing, and labour is the manifestation of this power residing 
in him.) If therefore an article loses it utility, it also loses 
its value. The reason why means of production do not lose 

226 Capitalist Production. 

their value, at the same time that they lose their use-value, is 
this : they lose in the labour-process the original form of their 
use-value, only to assume in the product the form of a new use- 
value. But, however important it may be to value, that i~ 
should have some object of utility to embody itself in, yet k 
is a matter of complete indifference what particular object 
serves this purpose; this we saw when treating of the meta 
morphosis of commodities. Hence it follows that in the 
labour-process the means of production transfer their value; 
to the product only so far as along with their use-value they 
lose also their exchange value. They give up to the produce 
that value alone which they themselves lose as means of pro 
duction. But in this respect the material factors of the labour - 
process do not all behave alike. 

The coal burnt under the boiler vanishes without leaving a 
trace; so, too, the tallow with which the axles of wheels aro 
greased. Dye stuffs and other auxiliary substances also vanish 
but re-appear as properties of the product. Raw material 
forms the substance of the product, but only after it ha 3 
changed its form. Hence raw material and auxiliary sub 
stances lost the characteristic form with which they are clothed 
on entering the labour-process. It is otherwise with the in 
struments of labour. Tools, machines, workshops, and vessels, 
are of use in the labour-process, only so long as they retain 
their original shape, and are ready each morning to renew tho 
process with their shape unchanged. And just as during thei * 
lifetime, that is to say, during the continued labour-process in 
which they serve, they retain their shape independent of tho 
product, so, too, they do after their death. The corpses of 
machines, tools, workshops, &c., are always separate and dis 
tinct from the product they helped to turn out. If we now 
consider the case of any instrument of labour during the whol 3 
period of its service, from the day of its entry into the work 
shop, till the day of its banishment into the lumber room, WB 
find that during this period its use-value has been completely 
consumed, and therefore its exchange value completely trans 
ferred to the product. For instance, if a spinning machina 
lasts for 10 years, it is plain that during that working perio 1 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 227 

its total value is gradually transferred to the product of the 
10 years. The lifetime of an instrument of labour, therefore, 
is spent in the repetition of a greater or less number of similar 
operations. Its life may be compared with that of a human 
being. Every day brings a man 24 hours nearer to his grave : 
but how many days he has still to travel on that road, no man 
can tell accurately by merely looking at him. This difficulty, 
however, does not prevent life insurance offices from drawing, 
by means of the theory of averages, very accurate, and at the 
same time very profitable conclusions. So it is with the instru 
ments of labour. It is known by experience how long on the 
average a machine of a particular kind will last. Suppose its 
use-value in the labour-process to last only six days. Then, 
on the average, it loses each day one-sixth of its use-value, and 
therefore parts with one-sixth of its value to the daily product 
The wear and tear of all instruments, their daily loss of use- 
value, and the corresponding quantity of value they part with 
to the product, are accordingly calculated upon this basis. 

It is thus strikingly clear, that means of production never 
transfer jjiacfi-5Lalu^.to the product than they themselves lose 
during the labour-process by the destructionjof their. -own use- 
value. If such an instrument has no value to lose, if, in other 
words, it is not the product of human labour, it transfers no 
value to the product. It helps to create use-value without con 
tributing to the formation of exchange value. In this class 
are included all means of production supplied by Nature with 
out human assistance, such as land, wind, water, metals in 
situ, and timber in virgin forests. 

Yet another interesting phenomenon here presents itself. 
Suppose a machine to be worth 1000, and to wear out in 1000 
days. Then one thousandth part of the value of the machine 
is daily transferred to the day s product. At the same time, 
though with diminishing vitality, the machine as a whole con 
tinues to take part in the labour-process. Thus it appears 
that one factor of the labour-process, a means of production, 
continually enters as a whole into that process, while it enters 
into the process of the formation of value by fractions only. 
The difference between the two processes is here reflected in 

228 Capitalist Production. 

their material factors, by the same instrument of production 
taking part as a whole in the labour-process, while at the same 
time as an element in the formation of value, it enters only by 
fractions. 1 

On the other hand, a means of production may take part as a 
whole in the formation of value, while into the labour-process 
it enters only bit by bit. Suppose that in spinning cotton, the 
waste for every 115 Ibs. used amounts to 15 Ibs., which is con 
verted, not into yarn, but into "devil s dust." Now, although 
this 15 Ibs. of cotton never becomes a constituent element of 
the yarn, yet assuming this amount of waste to be normal and 
inevitable under average conditions of spinning,- its value is 
just as surely transferred to the value of the yarn, as is the 
value of the 100 Ibs. that form the substance of the yarn. The 
use-value of 15 Ibs. of cotton must vanish into dust, before 100 
Ibs. of yarn can be made. The destruction of this cotton is 
therefore a necessary condition in the production of the yarn. 
And because it is a necessary condition, and for no other rea 
son, the value of that cotton is transferred to the product. 
The same holds good for every kind of refuse resulting from a 
labour-process, so far at least as such refuse cannot be furttnr 
employed as a means in the production of new and independent 

1 The subject of repairs of the implements of labour does not concern us here. A 
machine that is undergoing repair, no longer plays the part of an instrument, 1 ut 
that of a subject of labour. Work is no longer done with it, but upon it. It is 
quite permissible for our purpose to assume, that the labour expended on the repairs 
of instruments is included in the labour necessary for their original production. 
But in the text we deal with that wear and tear, which no doctor can cure, and 
which little by little brings about death, with "that kind of wear which cannot be 
repaired from time to time, and which, in the case of a knife, would ultimately re 
duce it to a state in which the cutler would say of it, it is not worth a new bladr." 
We have shewn in the text, that a machine takes part in every labour-process as an 
integral machine, but that into the simultaneous process of creating value it enters 
only bit by bit. How great then is the confusion of ideas exhibited in the following 
extract! "Mr. Ricardo says a portion of the labour of the engineer in making 
[stocking] machines" is contained for example in the value of a pair of stockin js. 
"Yet the total labour, that produced each single pair of stockings .... in 
cludes the whole labour of the engineer, not a portion; for one machine makes many 
pairs, and none of those pairs could have been done without any part of the ma 
chine." ("Obs. on certain verbal disputes in Pol. Econ. particularly relating to 
value," p. 54.) The author, an uncommonly self-satisfied wiseacre, is right in hi* 
confusion and therefore in his contention, to this extent only, that neither Ricardo 
nor any other economist, before or since him, has accurately distinguished the t vo 
apect of labour, and still less, therefore, the pan played by it under each of ths 
*pect in the formation of value. 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 229 

use-values. Such an employment of refuse may be seen in the 
large machine works at Manchester, where mountains of iron 
turnings are carted away to the foundry in the evening, in 
order the next morning to re-appear in the workshops as solid 
masses of iron. 

We have seen that the means of production transfer value to 
the new product, so far only as during the labour-process they 
lose value in the shape of their old use-value. The maximum 
loss of value that they can suffer in the process, is plainly 
limited by the amount of the original value with which they 
came into the process, or in other words, by the labour-time 
necessary for their production. Therefore the means oj 
duction can never add more value to the product than they 
themselves possessj^gppnrlently^f Jjie process in which they 
assist. However useful a given kind of raw material, or a 
machine, or other means of production may be, though it may 
cost 150, or, say, 500 days labour, yet it cannot, under any 
circumstances, add to the value of the product more than 150. 
Its value is determined not by the labour-process into which it 
enters as a means of production, but by that out of which it has 
issued as a product. In the labour-process it only serves as a 
mere use-value, a thing with useful properties, and could not, 
therefore, transfer any value to the product, unless it possessed 
such value previously. 1 

1 From this we may judge of the absurdity of J. B. Say, who pretends to account \ 
for surplus-value (Interest, Profit, Rent), by the "services productifs" which the \ 
means of production, soil, instruments, and raw material, render in the labour-proc 
ess by means of their use-values. Mr. \Vm. Roscher who seldom loses an occasion 
of registering, in black and white, ingenious apologetic fancies, records the following 
specimen: "J. B. Say (Trait*, t. 1. ch. 4) very truly remarks: the value produced 
by an oil mill, after deduction of all costs, is something new, something quite differ- 
ent from the labour by which the oil mill itself was erected." (1. c., p. 82, note.) 
Very true, Mr. Professor! the oil produced by the oil mill is indeed something very 
different from the labour expended in constructing the mill! By value, Mr. Roscher 
understands such stuff as "oil," because oil has value, notwithstanding that "Na 
ture" produces petroleum, though relatively "in small quantities," a fact to which 
he seems to refer in his further observation: "It (Nature) produces scarcely any 
exchange value." Mr. Roscber s "Nature" and the exchange value it produces are 
rather like the foolish virgin who admitted indeed that she had had a child, but "it 
was such a little one." This "savant serieux" in continuation remarks: "Ricardo s 
school is in the habit of including capital as accumulated labour under the head of 
labour. This is unskilful work, because, indeed, the owner of capital, after all, does 
something more than the merely creating and preserving of the same: namely, the 
abstention from the enjoyment of it, for which he demands, t.g., interest." (1. c.) 

23 Capitalist Production. 

While productive labour is changing the means of produc 
tion into constituent elements of a new product, their value 
undergoes a metempsychosis. It deserts the consumed body, 
to occupy the newly created one. But this transmigration 
takes place, as it were, behind the back of the labourer. He 
is unable to add new labour, to create new value, without at 
the same time preserving old values, and this, because the 
labour he adds must be of a specific useful kind ; and he can 
not do work of a useful kind, without employing products as 
the means of production of a new product, and thereby trans 
ferring their value to the new product. The property there 
fore which labour-power in action, living labour, .possesses of 
preserving value, at the same time that it adds it, is a gift of 
Nature which costs the labourer nothing, but which is very 
advantageous to the capitalist inasmuch as it preserves the 
existing value of his capital. 1 So long as trade is good, the 
capitalist is too much absorbed in money-grubbing to take 
notice of this gratuitous gift of labour. A violent interruption 
of the labour-process by a crisis, makes him sensitively awaie 
of it. 2 

As regards the means of production, what is really consumed 
is their use-value, and the consumption of this use-value by 
labour results in the product. There is no consumption cf 

How very "skilful" is this "anatomico-physiological method" of political economy, 
which, "indeed," converts a mere desire "after all" into a source of value. 

1 "Of all the instruments of the farmers trade, the labour of man ... is that en 
which he is most to rely for the repayment of his capital. The other two . . . the 
working stock of the cattle and the . . . carts, ploughs, spades, and so forti, 
without a given portion of the first, are nothing at all." (Edmund Burk<:: 
"Thoughts and Details on Scarcity, originally presented to the Right Hon. W. Pitt, 
in the month of November 1795," Edit. London, 1800, p. 10.) 

1 In "The Times" of 26th November, 1862, a manufacturer, whose mill employ* d 
800 hands, and consumed, on the average, 150 bales of East Indian, or 130 bales of 
American cotton, complains, in doleful manner, of the standing expenses of bis 
factory when not working. He estimates them at 6,000 a year. Among them a ~e 
a number of items that do not concern us here, such as rent, rates, and taxes, ii- 
surance, salaries of the manager, book-keeper, engineer, and others. Then he reck 
ons 150 for coal used to heat the mill occasionally, and run the engine now ar d 
then. Besides this, he includes the wages of the people employed at odd times :o 
keep the machinery in working order. Lastly, he puts down 1,200 for depreciatic n 
of machinery, because "the weather and the natural principle of decay do not sus 
pend their operations because the steam-engine ceases to revolve." He says, eia-. 
phatically, he does not estimate his depreciation at more than the small sum )f 
1,200, because his machinery is already nearly worn out. 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 231 

their value. 1 and it would therefore be inaccurate to say that 
it is reproduced. It is rather preserved ; not by reason of any 
operation it undergoes itself in the process; but because the 
article in which it originally exists, vanishes, it is true, but 
vanishes into some other article. Hence, in the value of the 
product, there is a re-appearance of the value of the means of 
production, but there is, strictly speaking, no reproduction of 
that value. That which is produced is a new use-value in 
which the old exchange-value re-appears. 2 

It is otherwise with the subjective factor of the labour-pro 
cess, with labour-power in action. While the labourer, by 
virtue of his labour being of a specialised kind that has a 
special object, preserves and transfers to the product the value 
of the means of production, he at the same time, by the mere 
act of working, creates each instant an additional or new value. 
Suppose the process of production to be stopped just when the 
workman has produced an equivalent for the value of his own 
labour-power, when, for example, by six hours labour, he has 
added a value of three shillings. This value is the surplus, of 
the total value of the product, over the portion of its value 
that is due to the means of production. It is the only original 
bit of value formed during this process, the only portion of the 
value of the product created by this process. Of course, we 
do not forget that this new value only replaces the money 
advanced by the capitalist in the purchase of the labour-power, 

1 "Productive consumption . . . where the consumption of a commodity is a part 
of the process of production. ... In these instances there is no consumption of 
value." (S. P. Newman, 1. c. p. 296.) 

1 In an American compendium that has gone through, perhaps, 20 editions, this 
passage occurs: "It matters not in what form capital re-appears;" then after a 
lengthy enumeration of all the possible ingredients of production whose value re 
appears in the product, the passage concludes thus: "The various kinds of food, 
clothing, and shelter, necessary for the existence and comfort of the human being, 
are also changed. They are consumed from time to time, and their value re-appears 
in that new vigour imparted to his body and mind, forming fresh capital, to be em 
ployed again in the work of production." (F. Wayland, 1. c. pp. 31, 32.) Without 
noticing any other oddities, it suffices to observe, that what re-appears in the fresh 
vigour, is not the bread s price, but its blood-forming substances. What, on the 
other hand, re-appears in the value of that vigour, is not the means of subsistence, 
but their value. The same necessaries of life, at half the price, would form just as 
much muscle and bone, just as much vigour, but not vigour of the same value. This 
confusion of "value" and "vigour" coupled with our author s pharisaical indefinite- 
ness, mark an attempt, futile for all that, to thrash out an explanation of surplus- 
value from a mere re-appearance of pre-existing values. 

232 Capitalist Production. 

and spent by the labourer on the necessaries of life. With 
regard to the money spent, the new value is merely a repro 
duction ; but, nevertheless, it is an actual, and not, as in the 
case of the value of the means of production, only an apparent, 
reproduction. The substitution of one value for another, is 
here effected by the creation of new value. 

We know, however, from what has gone before, that the 
labour-process may continue beyond the time necessary to re 
produce and incorporate in the product a mere equivalent for 
the value of the labour-power. Instead of the six hours that 
are sufficient for the latter purpose, the process may continue 
for twelve hours. The action of labour-power, therefore, not 
only reproduces Jte own value, but produces value over and 
above it. This surplus-value is the difference between the 
value of the product and the value of the elements consumed 
in the formation of that product, in other words, of the means 
of production and_the Labour-power. 

By our explanation of the different parts played by the vari 
ous factors of the labour-process in the formation of the pro 
duct s value, we have, in fact, disclosed the characters of the 
different functions allotted to the different elements of capital 
in the process of expanding its own value. The surplus of the 
total value of the prqduct, over the sum of the values of its 
constituent factors, is the surplus of the expanded capital over 
the capital originally advanced. The means of production on 
the one hand, labour-power on the other, are merely the differ- 
ent modes of existence which the value of the original capital 
assumed when from being money it was transformed into the 
various factors of the labo_ur-process. That part of capital 
then, which is represented by the means of production by the 
raw material, auxiliary material and the instruments_pf labour, 
does not, in the process of production, undergo any quajatitative 
alteration of j^lue. I therefore call it the constant part of 
capital, or, more shortly, constant capital. 

On the other hand, that part of capital, represented by 
labour-power, does, in the process of production, undergo an 
alteration^of value. It both reproduces the equivalent of its 
own value, and also produces an excess, a surplus-value, which 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 233 

may itself vary, may be more or less according to circum 
stances. This part, of capital is continually being transformed 
from a constant into a variable magnitude. I therefore call it 
the variable part of capital, or, shortly, variable_capital. The 
same elements of capital which, from the point of view of the 
labour-process, present themselves respectively as the objective 
and subjective factors, as means of production and labour- 
power, present themselves, from the point of view of the pro 
cess of creating surplus-value, as constant and variable capital. 
The definition of constant capital given above by no means 
excludes the possibility of a change of value in its elements. 
Suppose the price of cotton to be one day sixpence a pound, 
and the next day, in consequence of a failure of the cotton crop, 
a shilling a pound. Each pound of the cotton bought at six 
pence, and worked up after the rise in value, transfers to the 
product a value of one shilling; and the cotton already spun 
before the rise, and perhaps circulating in the markets as yarn, 
likewise transfers to the product twice its original value. It 
is plain, however, that these changes of value are independent 
of the increment or surplus-value added to the value of the 
cotton by the spinning itself. If the old cotton had never 
been spun, it could, after the rise, be resold at a shilling a 
pound instead of at sixpence. Further, the fewer the processes 
the cotton has gone through, the more certain is this result. 
We therefore find that speculators make it a rule when such 
sudden changes in value occur to speculate in that material on 
which the least possible quantity of labour has been spent: to 
speculate, therefore, in yarn rather than in cloth, in cotton 
itself, rather than in yarn. The change of value in the case we 
have been considering, originates, not in the process in which 
the cotton plays the part of a means of production, and in 
which it therefore functions as constant capital, but in the pro 
cess in which the cotton itself is produced. The value of a 
commodity, it is true, is determined by the quantity of labour 
contained in it, but this quantity is itself limited by social con 
ditions. If the time socially necessary for the production of 
any commodity alters and a given weight of cotton represents, 
after a bad harvest, more labour than after a good one all 

234 Capitalist Production. 

previously existing commodities of the same class are affected, 
because they are, as it were, only individuals of the species, 1 
and their value at any given time is measured by the labour 
socially necessary, i.e., by the labour necessary for their pro 
duction under the then existing social conditions. 

As the value of the raw material may change, so, too, may 
that of the instruments of labour, of the machinery, &c., em 
ployed in the process; and consequently that portion of the 
value of the product transferred to it from them, may also 
change. If in consequence of a new invention, machinery of a 
particular kind can be produced by a diminished expenditure 
of labour, the old machinery becomes depreciated more or less 
and consequently transfers so much less value to the product. 
But here again, the change in value originates outside the 
process in which the machine is acting as a means of pro 
duction. Once engaged in this process, the machine cannot 
transfer more value than it possesses apart from the process. 

Just as a change in the value of the means of production, 
even after they have commenced to take a part in the labour 
process, does not alter their character as constant capital, so, 
too, a change in the proportion of constant to variable capital 
does not affect the respective functions of these two kinds of 
capital. The technical conditions of the labour process may 
be revolutionised to such an extent, that where formerly ten 
men using ten implements of small value worked up a relative 
ly small quantity of raw mtfirial,~one man may now, with the 
aid of one expensive machine, work up one hundred times as 
much raw material. In the latter case we have an enormous 
increase in the constant capital, that is represented by the 
total value of the means of production used, and at the same 
time a great reduction in the variable capital, invested in 
labour-power. Such a revolution, however, alters only the 
quantitave relation between the constant and the variable cap- 
ital, or the proportions in which the total capital is split up 
into its constant and variable constituents; it has not in the 
least degree affected the essential difference between the two. 

1 "Toutes les productions d un meme genre ne ferment proprement qu une masse, 
dont Ic prix se determine en general et sans egard aux circonstances particuliires." 
(Le Trosne, 1. c., p. 893.) 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 235 



THE surplus-value generated in the process of production by 
C, the capital advanced, or in other words, the self-expansion 
of the value of the capital C, presents itself for our consider 
ation, in the first place, as a surplus, as the amount by which 
the value of the product exceeds the value of its constituent 

The capital C is made up of two components, one, the sum 
of money _c laid out upon the means of production, and the 
other, the sum of money v expended upon the labour-power; 
c represents the portion that has become constant capital, and 
v the portion that has become variable capital. At first then, 
C=c+v: for example, if 500 is the capital advanced, its com 
ponents may be such that the 500 =410 const +90 var. 
When the process of production is finished, we get a com 
modity whose value= (c+v)+s, where s is the surplus-value; 
or taking our former figures, the value of th?s commodity may 
be (410 const. +90 var.) +90 surpl. Tho original capital 
has now changed from C to C , from 500 to 590. The dif 
ference is s or a surplus value of 90. Since the value of the 
constituent elements of the product is equal to the value of 
the advanced capital, it is mere tautology to say, that the ex 
cess of the value of the product_over the value of its constitu 
ent elements, is equal to the expansion of^the capital advanced 
or to the surplus-value produced. 

Nevertheless, we must examine this tautology a little more 
closely. The two things compared are, the value of the pro 
duct, and the value of its constituents consumed in the process 
of production. Now we have seen how that portion of the 
constant capital which consists of the instruments of labour, 
transfers to the product only a fraction of its value, while the 
remainder of that value continues to reside in those instru- 

236 Capitalist Production. 

ments. Since this remainder plays no part in the formation of 
value, we may at present leave it on one side. To introduce it 
into the calculation would make no difference. For instance, 
taking our former example, c=410 : suppose this sum to con 
sist of 312 value of raw material, 44 value of auxiliary 
material, and 54 value of the machinery worn away in the 
process; and suppose that the total value of the machinery 
employed is 1,054. Out of this latter sum, then, we reckon 
as advanced for the purpose of turning out the product, the 
sum of 54 alone, which the machinery loses hy wear and 
tear in the process ; for this is all it parts with to the produce 
Now if we also reckon the remaining 1,000, which still con 
tinues in the machinery, as transferred to the product, we 
ought also to reckon it as part of the value advanced, and thus 
make it appear on hoth sides of our calculation. 1 We shoulc, 
in this way, get 1,500 on one side and 1,590 on the other. 
The difference of these two sums, or the surplus-value, would 
still be 90. Throughout this Book therefore, by constant 
capital advanced for the production of value, we always mear, 
unless the context is repugnant thereto, the value of the means 
of production actually consumed in the procesa. and that valua 

This being so, let us return to the formula C=c4-v. which 
we saw transformed into C =(c+v)+s, C becoming C . 
We know that the value of the constant capital is trans 
ferred to, and merely re-appears in the product Th3 
TIP.W value actually created in_J;he process, the value pro 
duced, or value-product, is therefore not the same as the valu-3 
of the product; it is not, as it would at first sight appear 
(c+v)+s or 410 const +90 var.+90 surpl. ; but Z.-J-.L 
or 90 var.+90 surpl. not 590 but 180. If c=o, or in 
other words, if there were branches of industry in which th<) 
capitalist could dispense with all means of production madis 
by previous labour, whether they be raw material, auxiliary 
material, or instruments of labour, employing only labour- 

1 "If we reckon the value of the fixed capital employed as a part of the advances, 
we must reckon the remaining value of such capital at the end of the year as a par: 
of the annual returns." (Malthus, "Princ. of Pol. Econ." 2nd ed., Lond., 1836, p. 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 237 

power and materials supplied by Nature, in that case, there 
would be no constant capital to transfer to the product. This 
component of the value of the product, i.e., the 410 in our ex 
ample, would be eliminated, but the sum of 180, the amount 
of new value created, or the value produced, which contain* 
90 of surplus-value, would remain just as great as if c repre- 
sented the highest value jmaginable. We should have C= 
(0+v)=v or C the expanded capital=v+s and therefore 
(7 C=s as before. On the other hand, if s=0, or in other 
words, if the labour-power, whose value is advanced in the 
form of variable capital, were to produce only its equivalent, 
we should have C=c+v or C the value of the product= 
( c _j_ v )_|_0 or =(7. The capital advanced would, in this 
case, not have expanded its value. 

From what has gone before, we know that surplus-value is 
purely the result of a variation in the value of v, of that portion 
of the capital which is transformed into labour-power; con 
sequently, v+s=v+v / or v plus an increment of v. But the 
fact that it is v alone that varies, and the conditions of that 
variation, are obscured by the circumstance that in consequence 
of the increase in the variable component of the capital, there 
is also an increase in the sum total of the advanced capital. It 
was originally 500 and becomes 590. Therefore in order 
that our investigation may lead to accurate results, we must 
make abstraction from that portion of the value of the pro 
duct, in which constant capital alone appears, and consequently 
must equate the constant capital to zero or make c=0. This 
is merely an application of a mathematical rule, employed 
whenever we operate with constant and variable magnitudes, 
related to each other by the symbols of addition and sub 
traction only. 

A further difficulty is caused by the original form of the 
variable capital. In our example, C =410 const. +90 var 
+90 surpl. ; but 90 is a given and therefore a constant 
quantity ; hen^e it appears absurd to treat it as variable. But 
in fact, the term 90 var. is here merely a symbol to show that 
this value undergoes a process. The portion of the capital in 
vested in the purchase of labour-power is a definite quantity of 

238 Capitalist Production. 

materialised labour, a constant value like the value of the 
labour-power purchased. But in the process of production the 
place of the 90 is taken by the labour-power in action, dead 
labour is replaced by living labour, something stagnant by 
something flowing, a constant by a variable. The result is the 
reproduction of v plus an increment of v. From the point of 
view, then, of capitalist production, the whole process appears 
as the spontaneous variation of the originally constant value, 
which is transformed into labour-power. Both the process and 
its result^ appear to be owing to this value. If, therefore, such 
expressions as "90 variable capital," or "so much self- 
expanding value," appear contradictory, this is only because 
they bring to the surface a contradiction immanent in cap 
italist production. 

At first sight it appears a strange proceeding, to equate the 
constant capital to zero. Yet it is what we do every day. If, 
for example, we wish to calculate the amount of England s 
profits from the cotton industry, we first of all deduct the sums 
paid for cotton to the United States, India, Egypt and other 
countries ; in other words, the value of the capital that mere! y 
re-aj3ears in the value of thejprodnct is put=0. 

Of course the ratio ol surplus-value not only to that portion 
of the capital from which it immediately springs, and who^e 
change of value it represents, but also to the f=mm 1;?tfl1 frf ^ Q 
capital advanced is economically of^very great impojdaafieu 
We shall, therefore, in the third book, treat of this ratio ex 
haustively. In order to enable one portion of a capital to ex 
pand its value by being converted into labour-power, it is 
I necessary that another portion be converted into means of pro 
duction. In order that variable capital may perform its fun 3- 
tion, constant capital must be advanced in proper proportion, 
a proportion given by the special technical conditions of each 
labour-process. The circumstance, however, that retorts ard 
other vessels, are necessary to a chemical process, does n->t 
compel the chemist to notice them in the result of his analysis. 
If we look at the means of production, in their relation to the 
creation of value, and to the variation in the quantity of valua, 
apart from anything else, they appear simply as the material 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 239 

in which labour-power, the value-creator, incorporates itself. 
Neither the nature, nor the value of this material is of any 
importance. The only requisite is that there be a sufficient 
supply to absorb the labour expended in the process of pro 
duction. That supply once given, the material may rise or 
fall in value, or even be, as land and the sea, without any value 
in itself ; but this will have no influence^^on the creation of value 
or on the variation in the quantity of value. 1 

In the first place then we equate the constant jta1 fn 7prn 
The capital advanced is consequently reduced from c-fv tojv, 
and instead of the value of the product (c-f-v)-(-s we have now 
the value produced (v+s). Given the new value produced^ 
180, which sum consequently represents the whole labour ex 
pended during the process, then subtracting from it 90 the 
value of the variable capital, we have remaining 90, the 
amount of the surplus-value. This sum of 90 or s expresses 
the absolute quantity of surplus-value produced. The relative 
quantity produced, or the increase per cent of the variable 
capital, is determined, it is plain, by the ratio of the surplus- 
value to the variable capital, or is expressed by J . In our 
example this ratio isff , which gives an increase of 100%. 
This relative increase^n the value of the variable capital, or 
the relative .magnitude of the surplus-value, I call, "The rate 
of^surplus-value." 2 

We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the 
labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power, 
that is, the value of his means of subsistence. Now since his 
work forms part of a system, based on the social division of 
labour, he does not directly produce the actual necessaries 
which he himself consumes; he produces instead a particular 
commodity, yarn for example, whose value is equal to the 
value of those necessaries or of the money with which they 

*What Lucretius says is self-evident; "nit pa>8e creari de nihilo," out of nothing, 
nothing can be created. Creation of valu* ia transformation of labour-power into 
labour. Labour-power itself is energy transferred to a human organism by means of 
nourishing matter. 

* In the same way that the English use the terms "rate of profit," "rate of in 
terest." We shall see, in Book III., that the wte of profit is no mystery, so soon 
as we know the laws of surplus-value. If we reverse the process, we cannot com 
prehend either the one or the other. 

240 Capitalist Production. 

can be bought. The portion of his day s labour devoted to 
this purpose, will be greater orjess, in proportion to the value 
of the necessaries that he daily requires on an average, or, 
what amounts to the same thing, in proportion to the labour- 
time required on an average to produce them. If the value 
of those necessaries represents on an average the expenditure 
of six hours labour, the workman must on an average work 
for six hours to produce that value. If instead of working for 
the capitalist, he worked independently on his own account, he 
would, other things being equal, still be obliged to labour for 
the same number of hours, in order to produce the value of his 
labour-power, and thereby to gain the means of subsistence 
necessary for his conservation or continued reproduction. But 
as we have seen, during that portion of his day s labour in 
which he produces the value of his labour-power, say three 
shillings, he produces only an equivalent for the value of his 
labour-power already advanced by the capitalist; the new 
value created only replaces the variable capital advanced. It 
is owing to this fact, that the production of the new value of 
three shillings takes the semblance of a mere reproduction. 
That portion of the working day, then, during which this re 
production takes place, I call "necessary" labour-time, and the 
labour expended during that time I call "necessary" labour. 1 
fevTecessary, as regards the labourer, because independent of the 
[particular social form of his labour; necessary, as regards 
capital, and the world of capitalists, because on the continued 
existence of the labourer depends their existence also. 

During the second period of the labour-process, that in 
which his labour is no longer necessary labour, the workman, 
it is true, labours^ expends labour-power ; but his labour, being 
no longer necessary labour, he creates no value for himself. 
He creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the 
charms of a creation out of nothing. This portion of the 

1 In this work, we have, up to now, employe 1 the term "necessary labour-time," 
to designate the time i rcessary under given social conditions for the production of 
any commodity. Henceforward we use it to designate also the time necessary for 
the production of the p?" Icular commodity labour-power. The use of one and the 
same technical terra in different senses is inconvenient, but in no science can it be 
altogether avoided. Compare, for instance, the higher with the lower branches of 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 241 

working day, I name surplus labour-time, and to the labour 
expended during that time, I give the name of surplus-labour. 
It is every bit as important, for a correct understanding of 
surplusjyjlue, to conceive it as a mere congelation of surplus- 
labour-time, as nothing but nrmfprifllisgH syrplns-lflbour, as it 
is, for a proper comprehension of value, to conceive it as a mere 
congelation of^so^jnany hours of labour, as nothing but ma- 
terialised labour. The essential difference between the various 
economic forms of society, between, for instance, a society 
based on slave labour, and one based on wage labour, lies only 
in the mode in which this surplus-labour is in each case ex 
tracted from the actual producer, the labourer. 1 

Since, on the one hand, the values of the variable capital 
and of the labour-power purchased by that capital are equal, 
and the value of this labour-power determines the necessary 
portion of the working day ; and since, on the other hand, the 
surplus-value is determined by the surplus portion of the 
working day, it follows that surplus-value bears the same ratio 
to variable capital, that surplus-labour does to necessary labour, 
or in other words, the rate of surplus-value -7- = necessary tebor 
Both ratios, -f and n ecls!ar y ^abor express the same thing in differ 
ent ways; in the one case by reference to materialised, incor 
porated labour, in the other by reference to living, fluent 

The rate of surplus-value is therefore an exact expression j 
for the degree ofj?xr>loitation of labour-power by capital or of I 
the labourer by the capitalist. 2 

1 Herr Wilhelm Thucydides Roscher has found a mare s nest He haa made the 
important discovery that if, on the one hand, the formation of surplus-value, or 
surplus-produce, and the consequent accumulation of capital, is now-a-days due to 
the thrift of the capitalist, on the other hand, in the lowest stages of civilisation it 
is the strong who compel the weak to economise (1. c. p. 78). To economise what? 
Labour? Or superfluous wealth that does not exist? What is it that makes such 
men as Roscher account for the origin of surplus-value, by a mere rechauffe of the 
more or less plausible excuses by the capitalist, for his appropriation of surplus- 
value? It is, besides their real ignorance, their apologetic dread of a scientific 
analysis of value and surplus-value, and of obtaining a result, possibly not alto 
gether palatable to the powers that be. 

* Although the rate of surplus-value is an exact expression for the degree of ex 
ploitation of labour-power, it is, in no sense, an expression for the absolute amount 
of exploitation. For example, if the necessary labour=5 hours and the surplus-la- 
bour=5 hours, the degree of exploitation ia 100%. The amount of exploitation i 


242 Capitalist Production. 

We assumed in our example, that the value of the product 
=410 const. +90 var.-f90 surpl., and that the capital 
advanced =500. Since the surplus-value =90, and the ad 
vanced capital 500, we should, according to the usual way 
of reckoning, get as the rate of surplus value (generally con 
founded with rate of profits) 18%, a rate so low as possibly 
to cause a pleasant surprise to Mr. Carey and other harmon- 
isers. But in truth, the rate of surplus-value is not, equal 
to or^but to -f : thus it is not & Q fl but f# or IQOfe. which 
is more than fiveTlimes the apparent degree of exploitation. 
Although, in the case we have supposed, we are ignorant cf 
the actual length of the working day, and of the. duration in 
days or weeks of the labour-process, as also of the number cf 
labourers employed, yet the rate of surplus-value -7 accurately 
discloses to us, by means of its equivalent expression, 

the relation between the two parts of the working day. This 
relation is here one of equality, the rate being 100%. Henco, 
it is plain, the labourer, in our example, works one half of the 
day for himself, the other half for the capitalist. 

The method of calculating the rate of surpLifl-value is there 
fore, shortly, as follows. We take the total value of the prc - 
duct and put the constant Cjy^ital^hich merely re-appears^ in i :, 
equal to zero. What remains, is the only value that has, in 
the process of producing the commodity, been actually created. 
If the amount of surplus-value be given, we have only to deduct 
it from this remainder, to find the variable capital. And vice 
versa, if the latter be given, and we require to find the surplus- 
value. If both be given, we have only to perform the conclud 
ing operation, viz., to calculate ~ , the ratio of the surplus- 
value to the variable capital. 

Though the method is so simple, yet it may not be amiss, by 
means of a few examples, to exercise the reader in the applies - 
tion of the novel principles underlying it. 

First we will take the case of a spinning mill containing 

here measured by 5 hours. If, on the other hand, the necessary labour=6 hours 
and the surplus-labour 6 hours, the degree of exploitation remains, as be for:, 
100%, while the actual amount of exploitation has increased 20%, namely from foe 
hours to six. 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 243 

10,000 mule spindles, spinning No. 32 yarn from American 
cotton, and producing 1 Ib. of yarn weekly per spindle. We 
assume the waste to be 6% : under these circumstances 10,600 
Ibs. of cotton are consumed weekly, of which 600 Ibs. go to 
waste. The price of the cotton in April, 1871, was 7f d. per 
Ib. ; the raw material therefore costs in round numbers 342. 
The 10,000 spindles, including preparation-machinery, and 
motive power, cost, we will assume, 1 per spindle, amounting 
to a total of 10,000. The wear and tear we put at 10%, or 
1000 yearly=20 weekly. The rent of the building we 
suppose to be 300 a year or 6 a week. Coal consumed (for 
100 horse-power indicated, at 4 Ibs. of coal per horse-power per 
hour during 60 hours, and inclusive of that consumed in heat 
ing the mill), 11 tons a week at 8s. 6d. a ton, amounts to 
about 4rJ a week : gas, 1 a week, oil, &c., 4^ a week. Total 
cost of the above auxiliary materials, 10 weekly. Therefore 
the constant portion of the value of the week s product is 378. 
Wages amount to 52 a week. The price of the yarn is 12^d. 
per Ib., which gives for the value of 10,000 Ibs. the sum of 
10. The surplus value is therefore in this case 510 
430=80. We put the constant part of the value of the 
product =Q as it plays no part in the creaJioojaf-SLaliie. There 
remains 132 as the weekly value created, which 52 v#r.+ 
80 surpl. The rate of surplus-value is therefore f~f = 
153fJ-%. In a working day of 10 hours with average Tafeour 
the result is: necessary labour =3f^-hours and surplus-labour 

2 i 

One more example. Jacob gives the following calcx. tion 
for the year 1815. Owing to the previous adjustment of sev 
eral items it is very imperfect ; nevertheless for our purpose it 
is sufficient. In it he assumes the price of wheat to be 8s. a 
quarter, and the average yield per acre to be 22 bushels. 

1 The above data, which may be relied upon, were given me by a Manchester spin* 
ner. In England the horse-power of an engine was formerly calculated from th 
diameter of iti cylinder, now the actual horse-oower shown by the indicator ia taken. 

244 Capitalist Production. 


Seed, 1 9 

Manure, 2 10 

Wages, 3 10 

Total, .. 7 9 

Tithes, Rates, and 

Taxes, 1 1 

Rent 1 8 

Farmer s Profit and 

Interest, 1 2 

Total, .. 3 11 

Assuming that the price of the product is the same as its 
value, we here find the surplus-value distributed under the 
various heads of profit, interest, rent, &c. We have nothing 
to do with these in detail; we simply add them together, and 
the sum is a surplus-valve of 3 11s. Od. The sum of 3 
19s. Od., paid for seed and manure, is constant capital, and we 
put it equal to zero. There is left the sum of 3 10s. Od., 
which is the variable capital advan^d: and we see that a new 
value of 3 10s. Od.+3 11s. Od, has been produced in its 
place. Therefore -f = -ff-j~~ , giving a rate of surplus- 
value of more than 100%. The labourer employs more than 
one half of his working day in producing the surplus-value, 
which different persons, under different pretexts, share 
amongst themselves. 1 


Let us now return to the example by which w were shown 
how the capitalist converts money into capital. 

The product of a working day of 12 hours it 1 20 ibs. of 
yarn, having a value of 30s. ^o less thany^ths of this value, 
or 24s., is due to mere re-appearance in it, of the value of the 

* The calculations given in the text are intended merely as illustrations. We hrv 
in fact assumed that price%=values. We shall, however, see, in volume 117., that 
even in the case of average prices th assumption cannot be made in this very jiui 
pie manner. 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 245 

means of production (20 Ibs. of cotton, value 20s., and spindle 
worn away, 4s.) : it is therefore constant capital. The re 
maining -fa ths or 6 s - is the new value created during the spin 
ning process : of this one half replaces the value of the day s 
labour-power, or the variable capital, the remaining half con 
stitutes a surplus-value of 3s. The total value then of the 20 
Ibs. of yarn is made up as follows : 

80s. value of yarn=24 const. + 3s. var.+3s. surpl. 

Since the whole of the value is contained in tho 20 Ibs. of 
yarn produced, it follows that the various component parts of 
this value, can be represented as being contained respectively 
in corresponding parts of the product. 

If the value of 30s. is contained in 20 Ibs. of yarn, then 
T^ths of this value, or the 24s. that form its constant part, is 
contained in -j^-ths of the product or in 16 Ibs. of yarn. Of 
the latter 13 Ibs. represent the value of the raw material, the 
20s. worth of cotton spun, and 2 Ibs. represent the 4s. worth 
of spindle, &c., worn away in the process. 

Hence the whole of the cotton used up in spinning the 20 
Ibs. of yarn, is represented by 13 J Ibs. of yarn. This latter 
weight of yarn contains, it is true, by weight, no more than 13 J 
Ibs. of cotton, worth 13J shillings; but the 6f shillings ad 
ditional value contained in it, are the equivalent for the cotton 
consumed in spinning the remaining 6 Ibs. of yarn. The 
effect is the same as if these 6f Ibs. of yarn contained no cot 
ton at all, and the whole 20 Ibs. of cotton were concentrated in 
the 13 J Ibs. of yarn. The latter weight, on the other hand, 
does not contain an atom either of the value of the auxiliary 
materials and implements, or of the value newly created in the 

In the same way, the 2 Ibs. of yarn, in which the 4s., the 
remainder of the constant capital, is embodied, represents 
nothing but the value of the auxiliary materials and instru 
ments of labour consumed in producing the 20 Ibs. of yarn. 

We have, therefore, arrived at this result: although eight- 
tenths of the product, or 16 Ibs. of yarn, is, in its character of 
an article of utility, just as much the fabric of the spinner s 
labour, as the remainder of the same product, yet when viewed 

246 Capitalist Production. 

in this connexion, it does not contain, and has not absorbed any 
labour expended during the process of spinning. It is just as 
if the cotton had converted itself into yarn, without help; as 
if the shape it had assumed was mere trickery and deceit: 
for so soon as our capitalist sells it for 24s., and with the money 
replaces his means of production, it becomes evident that this 
.1 6 Ibs. of yarn is nothing more than so much cotton and spindle- 
waste in disguise. 

On the other hand, the remaining ^j-ths of the product, or 4 
Ibs. of yarn, represent nothing but the new value of 6s., created 
during the 12 hours spinning process. All the value trans 
ferred to those 4 Ibs., from the raw material and instruments 
of labour consumed, was, so to say, intercepted in order to bo 
incorporated in the 16 Ibs. first spun. In this case, it is as if 
the spinner had spun 4 Ibs. of yarn out of air, or, as if he had 
spun them with the aid of cotton and spindles, that, being the 
spontaneous gift of Nature, transferred no value to the product. 

Of this 4 Ibs. of yarn, in which the whole of the value newly 
created during the process, is condensed, one half represents 
the equivalent for the value of the labour consumed, or the 3s. 
variable capital, the other half represents the 3s. surplus-value. 

Since 12 working hours of the spinner are embodied in 6s., 
it follows that in yarn of the value of 30s., there must be em 
bodied 60 working hours. And this quantity of labour-time 
does in fact exist in the 20 Ibs. of yarn ; for in nj-ths or 16 Ibs. 
there are materialised the 48 hours of labour expended, before 
the commencement of the spinning process, on the means of 
production ; and in the remaining -n$-ths or 4 Ibs. there are 
materialised the 12 hours work done during the process itself. 

On a former page we saw that the value of the yarn is equal 
to the sum of the new value created during the production of 
that yarn plus the value previously existing in the means of 

It has now been shown how the various component parts of 
the value of the product, parts that differ functionally from 
each other, may be represented by corresponding proportional 
parts of the product itself. 

To split up in this manner the product into different parts, 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 247 

of which one represents only the labour previously spent on 
the means of production, or the constant capital, another, only 
the necessary labour spent during the process of production, or 
the variable capital, and another and last part, only the surplus- 
labour expended during the same process, or the surplus-value ; 
to do this, is, as will be seen later on from its application to 
complicated and hitherto unsolved problems, no less important 
than it is simple. 

In the preceding investigation we have treated the total 
product as the final result, ready for use, of a working day of 
12 hours. We can however follow this total product through 
all the stages of its production; and in this way we shall 
arrive at the same result as before, if we represent the partial 
products, given off at the different stages, as functionally 
different parts of the final or total product. 

The spinner produces in 12 hours 20 Ibs. of yarn, or in 1 
hour 1 J Ibs. ; consequently he produces in 8 hours 13 Ibs., or 
a partial product equal in value to all the cotton that is spun 
in a whole day. In like manner the partial product of the 
next period of 1 hour and 36 minutes, is 2| Ibs. of yarn: this 
represents the value of the instruments of labour that are con 
sumed in 12 hours. In the following hour and 12 minutes, 
the spinner produces 2 Ibs. of yarn worth 3 shillings, a value 
equal to the whole value he creates in his 6 hours necessary 
labour. Finally, in the last hour and 12 minutes he produces 
another 2 Ibs. of yarn, whose value is equal to the surplus- 
value, created by his surplus-labour during half a day. This 
method of calculation serves the English manufacturer for 
everyday use ; it shows, he will say, that in the first 8 hours, 
or J of the working day, he gets back the value of his cotton ; 
and so on for the remaining hours. It is also a perfectly 
correct method: being in fact the first method given above 
with this difference, that instead of being applied to space, in 
which the different parts of the completed product lie side by 
side, it deals with time, in which those parts are successively 
produced. But it can also be accompanied by very barbarian 
notions, more especially in the heads of those who are as much 
interested, practically, in the process of making value beget 

248 Capitalist Production. 

value, as they are in misunderstanding that process theoreti 
cally. Such people may get the notion into their heads, that 
one spinner, for example, produces or replaces in the first 8 
hours of his working day the value of the cotton ; in the 
following hour and 36 minutes the value of the instruments of 
labour worn away ; in the next hour and 12 minutes the value 
of the wages ; and that he devotes to the production of surplus- 
value for the manufacturer, only that well known "last hour," 
In this way the poor spinner is made to perform the two-fold 
miracle not only of producing cotton, spindles, steam-engine, 
fcoal, oil, &c., at the same time that he spins with them, but 
also of turning one working day into five ; for in, .the example 
we are considering, the production of the raw material and in 
struments of labour demands four working days of twehe 
hours each, and their conversion into yarn requires another 
such day. That the love of lucre induces an easy belief in 
such miracles, and that sycophant doctrinaires are never 
wanting to prove them, is vouched for by the following inci 
dent of historical celebrity. 


One fine morning, in the year 1836, Nassau W. Senior, who 
may be called the bel-esprit of English economists, well knowi , 
alike for his economical "science," and for his beautiful style, 
was summoned from Oxford to Manchester, to learn in the 
latter place the political economy that he taught in the former. 
The manufacturers elected him as their champion, not only 
against the newly passed Factory Act, but against the sti.l 
more menacing Ten-hours agitation. With their usual prac 
tical acuteness, they had found out that the learned Professor 
"wanted a good deal of finishing;" it was this discovery that 
caused them to write for him. On his side the Professor has 
embodied the lecture he received from the Manchester manu 
facturers, in a pamphlet, entitled: "Letters on the Factorp 
Act, as it affects the cotton manufacture." London, 1831. 
Here we find, amongst others, the following edifying passage : 
"Under the present law, no mill in which persons under 13 
years of age are employed, can be worked 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 249 

more than 11 J hours a day, that is 12 hours for 5 days in the 
week, and nine on Saturday. 

"Now the following analysis ( !) will show that in a mill so 
worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. I 
will suppose a manufacturer to invest 100,000 : 80,000 in 
his mill and machinery, and 20,000 in raw material and 
wages. The annual return of that mill, supposing the capital 
to be turned once a year, and gross profits to be 15 per cent., 

ought to be goods worth 115,000 Of this 

115,000, each of the twenty-three half-hours of work pro 
duces 5-115ths or one twenty-third. Of these 23-23rds (con 
stituting the whole 115,000) twenty, that is to say 100,000 
out of the 115,000, simply replace the capital; one twenty- 
third (or 5000 out of the 115,000) makes up for the de 
terioration of the mill and machinery. The remaining 
2-23rds, that is, the last two of the twenty-three half-hours of 
every day, produce the net profit of 10 per cent. If, there 
fore (prices remaining the same), the factory could be kept at 
work thirteen hours instead of eleven and a half, with an 
addition of about 2600 to the circulating capital, the net 
profit would be more than doubled. On the other hand, if the 
hours of working were reduced by one hour per day (prices 
remaining the same), the net profit would be destroyed if 
they were reduced by one hour and a half, even the gross profit 
would be destroyed." 1 

1 Senior, 1. c., p. 12, 18. We let pass such extraordinary notions as are of no im 
portance for our purpose; for instance, the assertion, that manufacturers reckon as 
part of their profit, gross or net, the amount required to make good wear and tear of 
machinery, or in other words, to replace a part of the capital. So, too, we pass over 
any question as to the accuracy of his figures. Leonard Homer has shown in "A 
Letter to Mr. Senior," &c., London, 1837, that they are worth no more than the so- 
called "Analysis." Leonard Horner was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners 
in 1833, and Inspector, or rather Censor of Factories till 1859. He rendered undy 
ing service to the English working class. He carried on a life-long contest, not 
only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet, to whom the 
number of votes given by the masters in the Lower House, was a matter of far 
greater importance than the number of hours worked by the "hands" in the mills. 

Apart from errors in principle, Senior s statement is confused. What he really 
intended to say was this: The manufacturer employs the workman for 11^ hours 
or for 23 half-hours daily. As the working day, so, too, the working year, may be 
conceived to consist of 11 y 3 hours or 23 half-hours, but each multiplied by the 
number of working days in the year. On this supposition, the 23 half-hours yield 
aa annual product of 115,000; one half-hour yields,^ X 115,000; 20 half-hours 
yield | X 115,000; "-100,000, i.t., they replace no more than the capital ad- 

250 Capitalist Production. 

And the professor calls this an "analysis!" If, giving 
credence to the out-cries of the manufacturers, he believed that 
the workmen spend the best part of the day in the production, 
i. e., the reproduction or replacement of the value of the build 
ings, machinery, cotton, coal, &c., then his analysis was super 
fluous. His answer would simply have been : Gentlemen ! 
if you work your mills for 10 hours instead of 11 J, then, other 
things being equal, the daily consumption of cotton, machinery, 
&c., will decrease in proportion. You gain just as much as 
you lose. Your work-people will in future spend one hour 
and a half less time in producing or replacing the capital 
that has been advanced. If, on the other hand, he did net 
believe them without further inquiry, but, as being an expert 
in such matters, deemed an analysis necessary, then he ought, 
in a question that is concerned exclusively with the relations 
of net profit to the length of the working day, before all things 
to have asked the manufacturers, to be careful not to lump 
together machinery, workshops, raw material, and labour, but 
to be good enough to place the constant capital, invested in 
buildings, machinery, raw material, &c., on one :ide of th<3 
account, and the capital advanced in wages on the other side. 
If the professor then found, that in accordance with the calcu 
lation of the manufacturers, the workman reproduced or re 
placed his wages in 2 half -hours, in that case, he should hav<3 
continued his analysis thus: 

According to your figures, the workman in the last hour bu: 
one produces his wages, and in the last hour your surplus- 
value or net profit. Now, since in equal periods he producer 
equal values, the produce of the last hour but one, must have 
the same value as that of the last hour. Further, it is only 
while he labours that he produces any value at all, and the 
amount of his labour is measured by his labour-time. Thin 
you say, amounts to \\\ hours a day. He employs one portion 
of these 11^ hours, in producing or replacing his wages, and 

vanced. There remain 8 half-hours, which yield ^ X 115,000= 15,000 or th; 
gross profit. Of these 3 half-hours, one yields ^X 115,000= 6000; 4. ., 1C 
makes up for the wear and tear of the machinery; the remaining 2 half-hours, i.c. 
tne last hour, yield X X 115,000= 10,000 or the net profit. In the text Senio 
converts the last of the product into portions of the working day itself. 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 251 

the remaining portion in producing your not profit. Beyond 
this he does absolutely nothing. But since, on your assump 
tion, his wages, and the surplus-value he yields, are of equal 
value, it is clear that he produces his wages in 5J hours, and 
your net profit in the other 5f hours. Again, since the value 
of the yarn produced in 2 hours, is equal to the sum of the 
values of his wages and of your net profit, the measure of the 
value of this yarn must be 11^ working hours, of which 5| 
hours measure the value of the yarn produced in the last hour 
but one, and 5f, the value of the yarn produced in the last 
hour. We now come to a ticklish point ; therefore, attention ! 
The last working hour but one is, like the first, an ordinary 
working hour, neither more nor less. How then can the 
spinner produce in one hour, in the shape of yarn, a value that 
embodies 5f hours labour \ The truth is that he performs no 
such miracle. The use-value produced by him in one hour, is 
a definite quantity of yarn. The value of this yarn is meas 
ured by 5f working hours, of which 4f were, without any 
assistance from him, previously embodied in the means of 
production, in the cotton, the machinery, and so on; the re 
maining one hour is added by him. Therefore since his wages 
are produced in 5f hours, and the yarn produced in one hour 
also contains 5J hours work, there is no witchcraft in the re 
sult, that the value created by his 5f hours spinning, is equal 
to the value of the product spun in one hour. You are alto 
gether on the wrong track, if you think that he loses a single 
moment of his working day, in reproducing or replacing the 
values of the cotton, the machinery, and so on. On the con 
trary, it is because his labour converts the cotton and spindles 
into yarn, because he spins, that the values of the cotton and 
spindles go over to the yarn of their own accord. This result 
is owing to the quality of his labour, not to its quantity. It is 
true, he will in one hour tranfer to the yarn more value, in the 
shape of cotton, than he will in half an hour ; but that is only 
because in one hour he spins up more cotton than in half an 
hour. You see then, your assertion, that the workman pro 
duces, in the last hour but one, the value of his wages, and in 
the last hour your net profit, amounts to no more than this, 

252 Capitalist Production. 

that in the yarn produced by him in 2 working hours, whether 
they are the 2 first or the 2 last hours of the working day, in 
that yarn, there are incorporated 11 working hours, or just a 
whole day s work, i. e. t two hours of his own work and 9 hours 
of other people s. And my assertion that, in the first 5f hours, 
he produces his wages, and in the last 5 J hours your net profit, 
amounts only to this, that you pay him for the former, but not 
for the latter. In speaking of payment of labour, instead of 
payment of labour-power, I only talk your own slang. Now, 
gentlemen, if you compare the working time you pay for, with 
that which you do not pay for, you will find that they are to 
one another, as half a day is to half a day ; this gives a rate of 
100%, and a very pretty percentage it is. Further, there is 
not the least doubt, that if you make your "hands" toil for 13 
hours instead of 11, and, as may be expected from you, treat 
the work done in that extra one hour and a half, as pure 
surplus-labour, then the latter will be increased from 5f hours 
labour to 7J hours labour, and the rate of surplus-value from 
100%, to 126-^%. So that you are altogether too sanguine, 
in expecting that by such an addition of 1^ hours to the work 
ing day, the rate will rise from 100% to 200% and more, in 
other words that it will be "more than doubled." On the other 
hand man s heart is a wonderful thing, especially when car 
ried in the purse you take too pessimistic a view, when you 
fear, that with a reduction of the hours of labour from 11 J to 
10, the whole of your net profit will go to the dogs. Not at 
all. All other conditions remaining the same, the surplus- 
labour will fall from 5J hours to 4j hours, a period that still 
gives a very profitable rate of surplus-value, namely 82^-%. 
But this dreadful "last hour," about which you have invented 
more stories than have the millenarians about the day of 
judgment, is "all bosh." If it goes, it will cost neither you, 
your net profit, nor the boys and girls whom you employ, their 
"purity of mind." 1 Whenever yvur "last hour" strikes in 

1 If, on the one hand, Senior proved that the net profit of the manufacturer, 
the existence of the English cotton industry, and England s command of the markets 
of the world, depend on "the last working hour," on thr other hand, Dr. Andrew 
Ure showed, that if children and young persons under 18 years of age, instead of be* 
ing kept the full 12 hours in the warm and pure moral atmosphere of the factory, 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 253 

earnest, think on the Oxford Professor. And now, gentleman, 
"farewell, and raay we meet again in yonder better world, but 
not before." 

Senior invented the battle cry of the "last hour" in 1836. * 

are turned out an hour sooner into the heartless and frivolous outer world", they will 
be deprived, by idleness and vice, of all hope of salvation for their souls. Sine* 
1848, the factory inspectors have never tired of twitting the masters with this "last, 
this "fatal hour." Thus Mr. Howell in his report of the 31st May, 1855: "Had 
the following ingenious calculation (he quotes Senior) been correct, every cotton 
factory in the United Kingdom would have been working at a loss since the year 
1850." (Reports of the Insp. of Fact, for the half-year, ending 30th April, 1855, 
pp. 19, 20.) In the year 1848, after the passing of the 10 hour s bill, the masters 
of some flax spinning mills, scattered, few and far between, over the country on the 
borders of Dorset and Somerset, foisted a petition against the bill on to the shoul 
ders of a few of their work people. One of the clauses of this petition is as fol 
lows: "Your petitioners, as parents, conceive that an additional hour of leisure will 
tend more to demoralise the children than otherwise, believing that idleness is the 
parent of vice." On this the factory report of 81st Oct., 1848, says: The atmos 
phere of the flax mills, in which the children of these virtuous and tender parents 
work, is so loaded with dust and fibre from the raw material, that it is exception 
ally unpleasant to stand even 10 minutes in the spinning rooms: for you are unable 
to do so without the most painful sensation, owing to the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, 
and mouth, being immediately filled by the clouds of flax dust from which there is 
no escape. The labour itself, owing to the feverish haste of the machinery, demands 
unceasing application of skill and movement, under the control of a watchfulness 
that never tires, and it seems somewhat hard, to let parents apply the term "idling" 
to their own children, who, after allowing for meal times, are fettered for 10 whole 
hours to such an occupation, in such an atmosphere. . . . These children work 

longer than the labourers in the neighbouring villages Such cruel 

talk about "idleness and vice" ought to be branded as the purest cant, and the most 

shameless hypocrisy That portion of the public, who, about 12 

years ago, were struck by the assurance with which, under the sanction of high 
authority, it was publicly and most earnestly proclaimed, that the whole net profit 
of the manufacturer flows from the labour of the last hour, and that, therefore, 
the reduction of the working day by one hour, would destroy his net profit; that 
portion of the public, we say, will hardly believe its own eyes, when it now finds, 
that the original discovery of the virtues of "the last hour" has since been so far 
improved, as to include morals as well as profit; so that, if the duration of th 
labour of children, is reduced to a full 10 hours, their morals, together with the net 
profits of their employers, will vanish, both being dependent on this last, this fatal 
hour. (See Repts., Insp. of Fact., for 31st Oct., 1848, p. 101.) The same report 
then gives some examples of the morality and virtue of these same pure-minded 
manufacturers, of the tricks, the artifices, the cajoling, the threats, and the falsifica 
tions, they made use of, in order, first, to compel a few defenceless workmen to sign 
petitions of such a kind, and then to impose them upon Parliament as the petitions 
of a who!e branch of industry, or a whole country. It is highly characteristic of the 
present status of so called economical science, that neither Senior himself, who, at 
a later period, to his honour be it said, energetically supported the factory legisla 
tion, nor his opponents, from first to last, have ever been able to explain the false 
conclusions of the "original discovery." They appeal to actual experience, but the 
why and wherefore remains a mystery. 

1 Nevertheless, the learned professor was not without some benefit from hi jour 
ney to Manchester. In the "Letters on the Factory Act," be makes the whole net 
gains including "profit" and "interest," and even "something more," depend upon 

254 Capitalist Production. 

In the London Economist of the 15th April, 1848, the same cry 
was again raised by James Wilson, an economical mandarin of 
high standing : this time in opposition to the 10 hours bill. 


The portion of the product that represents the surplus-value, 
(one-tenth of the 20 Ibs., or 2 Ibs. of yarn, in the example given 
in Sec. 2,) we call "surplus-produce." Just as the rate of 
surplus-value is determined by its relation, not to the sum total 
of the capital, but to its variable part; in like manner, the re 
lative quantity of surplus-produce is determined by the ratio 
that this produce bears, not to the remaining part of the total 
product, but to that part of it in which is incorporated the 
necessary labour. Since the production of surplus-value is the 
chief end and aim of capitalist production, it is clear, that the 
greatness of a man s or a nation s wealth should be measured, 
not by the absolute quantity produced, but bv the relative 
magnitude of the surplus-produce. 1 

The sum of the necessary labour and the surplus-labour, i.e., 
of the periods of time during which the workman replaces the 

a single unpaid hour s work of the labourer. One year previously, in his "Outlines 
of Political Economy," written for the instruction of Oxford students and cultivated 
Philistines, he had also "discovered, in opposition to Ricardo s determination of 
value by labour, that profit is derived from the labour of the capitalist, and interest 
from his asceticism, in other words, from his "abstinence." The dodge was an old 
one, but the word "abstinence" was new. Herr Roscher translates it rightly by 
"Enthaltung." Some of his countrymen, the Browns, Jones, and Robinsons, of 
Germany, not so well versed in Latin as he, have, monk-like, rendered it by 
"Entsagung" (renunciation). 

1 "To an individual with a capital of 20,000, whose profits were 2.000 per an 
num, it would be a mattter quite indifferent whether his capital would employ a 
100 or 1,000 men, whether the commodity produced sold for 10,000 or 20,000, 
provided, in all cases, his profit were not diminished below 2,000. Is not the 
real interest of the nation similar? Provided its net real income, its rent and 
profits, be the same, it is of no importance whether the nation consists of 10 or of 
12 millions of inhabitants." (Ric. 1. c., p. 416.) Long before Ricardo, Arthur 
Young, a fanatical upholder of surplus produce, for the rest, a rambling uncritical 
writer, whose reputation is in the inverse ratio of his merit, says, "Of what use, in 
a modern kingdom, would be a whole province thus divided, [in the old Roman man 
ner, by small independent peasants], however well cultivated, except for the mere 
purpose of breeding men, which taken singly is a most useless purpose?" (Arthur 
Young: Political Arithmetic, &c, London, 1774, p. 47.) 

Very curious is "the strong inclination ... to represent net wealth as bene 
ficial to the labouring class .... though it is evidently not on account of 
being net." (Th. Hopkins, On Rent of Land, &c. London, 1828, p. 126.) 

The Working Day. 255 

value of his labour-power, and produces the surplus-value, this 
sum constitutes the actual time during which he works, i.e., the 
working day. 



Wz started with the supposition that labour-power is bought 
and sold at its value. Its value, like that of all other commo 
dities, is determined by the working time necessary to its 
production. If the production of the average daily means of 
subsistence of the labourer takes up 6 hours, he must work, on 
the average, 6 hours every day, to produce his daily labour- 
power, or to reproduce the value received as the result of its 
sale. The necessary part of his working day amounts to 6 
hours, and is, therefore, cceteris paribus, a given quantity. 
But with this, the extent of the working day itself is not yet 

Let us assume that the line A B represents the length of the 
necessary working time, say 6 hours. If the labour be pro 
longed 1, 3, or 6 hours beyond A B, we have 3 other lines: 
Working day I. Working day II. Working day III. 

A - B C. A - B - C. A - B - C. 
representing 3 different working days of 7, 9, and 12 hours. 
The extension B C of the line A B represents the length of 
the surplus labour. As the working day is A B -)- B C or 
A C, it varies with the variable quantity B C. Since A B 
is constant, the ratio of B C to A B can always be calculated. 
In working day I. it is J, in working day II, f in working day 
III, | of A B. Since, further the ratio 

termines the rate of the surplus-value, the latter is given, by 
the ratio of B C to A B. It amounts in the 3 different working 
days respectively to 16, 50 and 100 per cent. On the other 
hand, the rate of surplus-value alone would not give us the 

256 Capitalist Production. 

extent of the working day. If this rate e.g., were 100 per 
cent, the working day might be of 8, 10, 12, or more hours. 
It would indicate that the 2 constituent parts of the working 
day, necessary-labour and surplus-labour time, were equal in 
extent, but not how long each of these two constituent parts 

The working day is thus not a constant, but a variable 
quantity. One of its parts, certainly, is determined by the 
working time required for the reproduction of the labour- 
power of the labourer himself. But its total amount varies 
with the duration of the surplus-labour. The working day if, 
therefore, determinable, but is, per se, indeterminate. 1 

Although the working day is not a fixed, but a fluent 
quantity, it can, on the other hand, only vary within certain 
limits. The minimum limit is, however, not determinable ; 
of course, if we make the extension line BC or the surplus - 
labour 0, we have a minimum limit, i.e., the part of the day 
which the labourer must necessarily work for his own main 
tenance. On the basis of capitalist production, however, this 
necessary labour can form a part only of the working day ; th3 
working day itself can never be reduced to this minimum. On 
the other hand, the working day has a maximum limit. It 
d cannot be prolonged beyond a certain point. This maximum 
limit is conditioned by two things. First, by the physical 
bounds of labour-power. Within the 24 hours of the natural 
day a man can expend only a definite quantity of his vital force, 
A horse, in like manner, can only work from day to day, 8 
hours. During part of the day this force must rest, sleep ; 
during another part the man has to satisfy other physical needs, 
to feed, wash, and clothe himself. Besides these purely physi 
cal limitations, the extension of the working day encounters 
moral ones. The labourer needs time for satisfying his intel 
lectual and social wants, the extent and number of which aro 
conditioned by the general state of social advancement. Thn 
variation of the working day fluctuates, therefore, within 
physical and social bounds. But both these limiting condi- 

1 "A day s labour is vague, it may be long or short" ("An Essay on Trade ant 
Commerce, containing observations on taxes," &c. London, 1770. p. 73.) 

The Working Day. 257 

lions are of a very elastic nature, and allow the greatest lati 
tude. So we find working days of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, 
i.e., of the most different lengths. 

The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate. 
To him its use-value belongs during one working day. He 
has thus acquired the right to make the labour work for him 
during one day. But what is a working day ? l 

At all even! 3, less than a natural day. By how much ? 
The capitalist has his own views of this ultima Thule, the 
necessary limit of the working day. As capitalist, he is only 
capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But 
capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create 
value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means 
of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus- 
labour. 2 

Capital is dead labour, that vampire-like, only lives by 
sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it 
sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time 
during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has 
purchased of him. 8 

If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he 
robs the capitalist. 4 

The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the ex 
change of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get 
the greatest possible benefit out of the use-value of his commo 
dity. Suddenly the voice of the labourer, which had been 

1 This question is far more important than the celebrated question of Sir Robert 
Peel to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce: What is a pound? A question 
that could only have been proposed, because Peel was as much in the dark as to the 
nature of money as the "little shilling men" of Birmingham. 

It is the aim of the capitalist to obtain with his expended capital the greatest 
possible quantity of labour (d obetnir du capital depense la plus forte somme de 
travail possible). J. G. Courcelle-Seneuil . . Traite theorique et pratique" de* cntre- 
prises industrielles. 2nd ed. Paris, 1857, p. 63. 

* "An hour s labour lost in a day is a prodigious injury to a commercial State. 
. . . There is a very great consumption of luxuries among the labouring poor of 
this kingdom: particularly among the manufacturing populace, by which they also 
consume their time, the most fatal of consumptions." An Essay on Trade and 
Commerce, &c., p. 47 and 163. 

* "Si le manouvrier libre prend un Instant de repos, I eVonomie sordide qui le suit 
del yeujc avec inquietude pretend qu il la vole," N. Lingue*. "The"ori* des loix 
civiles, Ac. London, 1767," t II., P- 46. 

258 Capitalist Production. 

stifled in the storm and stress of the process of production, 
rises : 

The commodity that I have sold to you differs from the 
crowd of other commodities, in that its use creates value, and 
a value greater than its own. That is why you bought it. 
That which on your side appears a spontaneous expansion of 
capital, is on mine extra expenditure of labour-power. You 
and I know on the market only one law, that of the exchange 
of commodities. And the consumption of the commodity 
belongs not to the seller who parts with it, but to the buyer, 
who acquires it. To you, therefore, belongs the use of my 
daily labour-power. But by means of the price that you pay 
/ for it each day, I must be able to reproduce it daily, and t3 
sell it again. Apart from natural exhaustion through age, &c , 
I must be able on the morrow to work with the same normal 
amount of force, health and freshness as to-day. You preaca 
to me constantly the gospel of "saving" and "abstinence. 
Good ! I will, like a sensible saving owner, husband my sole 
wealth, labour-power, and abstain from all foolish waste of h. 
I will each day spend, set in motion, put into action only as 
much of it as is compatible with its normal duration, ani 
healthy development. By an unlimited extension of the 
working day, you may in one day use up a quantity of labour- 
power greater than I can restore in three. What you gain ia 
labour I lose in substance. The use of my labour- power ani 
the spoliation of it are quite different things. If the average 
time that (doing a reasonable amount of work) an average 
labourer can live, is 30 years, the value of my labour-power, 
which you pay me from day to day is B65 1 XBO or j 1 5 p- of its 
total value. But if you consume it in ten years, you pay ma 
daily 3-7^3-5- instead of FfrVff of its total value, i.e., only ^ of its 
daily value, and you rob me, therefore, every day of f of the 
value of my commodity. You pay me for one day s labour- 
power, whilst you use that of 3 days. That is against our 
contract and the law of exchanges, I demand, therefor, a 
working day of normal length, and I demand it without any 
appeal to your heart, for in money matters sentiment is out 
of place. You may be a model citizen, perhaps a 

The Working Day. 259 

of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and 
in the odour of sanctity to boot; but the thing that you rep 
resent face to face with me has no heart in its breast. That 
which seems to throb there is my own heart-beating. I de 
mand the normal working day because I, like every other 
seller, demand the value of my commodity. 1 

We see then, that> apart from extremely elastic bounds, the 
nature of the exchange of commodities itself imposes no limit 
to the working day, no limit to surplus-labour. {/The capitalist 
maintains his rights as a purchaser when he tries to make the 
working day as long as possible, and to make, whenever possi 
ble, two working days out of one. On the other hand, the 
peculiar nature of the commodity sold implies a limit to its 
consumption by the purchaser, and the labourer maintains his 
right as seller when he wishes to reduce the working day to one 
of definite normal duration. There is here, therefore, an anti 
nomy, right against right, both equally bearing the seal of the 
law of exchanges. Between equal rights force decides. 
Hence is it that in the history of capitalist production, the de 
termination of what is a working day, presents itself as the re 
sult of a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the 
class of capitalists, and collective labour, i.e., the working class. 



Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part 
of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, 
the labourer free or not free, must add to the working time 
necessary for his own maintenance an extra working time in 
order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the 
means of production, 2 whether this proprietor be the Athenian 

1 During the great strike of the London builders, 1860-61, for the reduction of 
the working day to 9 hours, their Committee published a manifesto that contained, to 
some extent, the plea of our workers. The manifesto allude*, not without irony, to 
the fact, that the greatest profit^monger amongst the building masters, a certain 
Sir M. Peto, was in the odour of sanctity. (This same Peto, after 1867, came to aa 
end a la Strousberg.) 

* "Those who labour .... in reality feed both the pensioner* . . 
[called the rich] and themselves." (Edmund Burke, 1. c., p. 2.) 

260 Capitalist Production. 

KaAfo K<lya0os, Etruscan tlieocrat, civis Bomanus, Norman 
baron, American slave owner, Wallachian Bojard, modern 
landlord or capitalist. 1 It is, however, clear that in any 
given economic formation of society, where not the exchange 
value but the use-value of the product predominates, surplus- 
labour will be limited by a given set of wants which may be 
greater or less, and that here no boundless thirst for surplus- 
labour arises from the nature of the production itself. Henc 
in antiquity overwork becomes horrible only when the object is 
to obtain exchange value in its specific independent money- 
form ; in the production of gold and silver. Compulsory work 
ing to death is here the recognized form of over- work. Only 
read Diodorus Siculus. 2 Still these are exceptions in antiq 
uity. But as soon as people, whose production still moves 
within the lower forms of slave-labour, corvee-labour, &c., 
are drawn into the whirlpool of an international mar 
ket dominated by the capitalistic mode of production, the 
sale of their products for export becoming their principal 
interest, the civilized horrors of over-work are grafted 
on the barbaric horrors of slavery, serfdom, &c. Hence the 
negro labour in the Southern States of the American 
Union preserved something of a patriarchal character, so lorg 
as production was chiefly directed to immediate local consum > 
tion. But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of 
vital interest to these states, the over-working of the negro ar d 
sometimes the using up of his life in 7 years of labour became 
a factor in a calculated and calculating system. 1 It was no 
longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of 
, useful products. It was now a question of production of sur 
plus-labour itself. So was it also with the corvee, e.g., in the 
Danubian Principalities (now Roumania). 

1 Niebuhr in his "Roman History" says very naively: "It is evident that woiks 
like the Etruscan, -which, in their ruins astound us, presuppose in little (!) sta es 
lords and vassals." Sismondi says far more to the purpose that "Brussels late" 
presupposes wage-lords and wage-slaves. 

* "One cannot see these unfortunates (in the gold mines between Egypt, Ethiopia, 
and Arabia) who cannot even have their bodies clean, or their nakedness clothrd, 
without pitying their miserable lot There is no indulgence, no forbearance for the 
sick, the feeble, the aged, for woraan i weakness. All must, forced by blows, work 
on until death puts an end to their sufferings and their distress." ("Dtod. Sic. BiW. 
Hist." lib. 8. c. 13.) 

The Working Day. 261 

The comparison of the greed for surplus-labour in the 
Danubian Principalities with the same greed in English fac 
tories has special interest, because surplus-labour, in the corvee 
has an independent and palpable form. 

Suppose the working day consists of 6 hours of necessary 
labour, and 6 hours of surplus-labour. Then the free labourer 
gives the capitalist every week 6 X 6 or 36 hours of surplus- 
labour. It is the same as if he worked 3 days in the week for 
himself, and 3 days in the week gratis for the capitalist. But 
this is not evident on the surface. Surplus-labour and neces 
sary labour glide one into the other. I can, therefore, express 
the same relationship by saying, e.g., that the labourer in every 
minute works 30 seconds for himself, and 30 for the capitalist, 
etc. It is otherwise with the corvee. The necessary labour 
which the Wallachian peasant does for his own maintenance is 
distinctly marked off from his surplus-labour on behalf of the 
Boyard. The one he does on his own field, the other on the 
seignorial estate. Both parts of the labour-time exist, there 
fore, independently, side by side one with the other. In the 
corvee the surplus-labour is accurately marked off from the 
necessary labour. This, however, can make no difference with 
regard to the quantitative relation of surplus-labour to neces 
sary labour. Three days surplus-labour in the week remain 
three days that yield no equivalent to the labourer himself, 
whether it be called corvee or wage-labour. But in the capi 
talist the greed for surplus-labour appears in the straining 
after an unlimited extension of the working day, in the Boyard 
more simply in a direct hunting after days of corvee. 1 

In the Danubian Principalities the corvee was mixed up 
with rents in kind and other appurtenances of bondage, but it 
formed the most important tribute paid to the ruling class. 
Where this was the case, the corvee rarely arose from serfdom ; 
serfdom much more frequently on the other hand took origin 
from the corvee. 2 This is what took place in the Roumanian 

1 That which follows refers to the situation in the Roumanian provinces before th 
change effected since the Crimean war. 

1 This holds likewise for Germany, and especially for Prussia east of the Elbe. 
In the 15th century the German peasant was nearly everywhere a man, who, whilst 
ubject to certain rents paid in produce and labour was otherwise at least practically 

262 Capitalist Production. 

Provinces. Their original mode of production was based on 
community of the soil, but not in the Slavonic or Indian form. 
Part of the land was cultivated in severalty as freehold by the 
members of the community, another part ager publicus was 
cultivated by them in common. The products of this common 
labour served partly as a reserve fund against bad harvests and 
other accidents, partly as a public store for providing the costs 
of war, religion, and other common expenses. In course of 
time military and clerical dignitaries usurped, along with the 
common land, the labour spent upon it. The labour of the free; 
peasants on their common land was transformed into corvee for 
the thieves of the common land. This corvee soon developed 
into a servile relationship existing in point of fact, not in ponr: 
of law, until Russia, the liberator of the world, made it legal 
under pretence of abolishing serfdom. The code of the corvee, 
which the Eussian General Kisseleff proclaimed in 1831, was* 
of course dictated by the Boyards themselves. Thus Russia 
conquered with one blow the magnates of the Danubian prov 
inces, and the applause of liberal cretins throughout Europe. 

According to the "R^glement organique," as this code of tho 
corvee is called, every Wallachian peasant owes to the so-called 
landlord, besides a mass of detailed payments in kind: (1), 1SJ 
days of general labour; (2), one day of field labour; (3), ono 
day of wood carrying. In all, 14 days in the year. With 
deep insight into political economy, however, the working day 
is not taken in its ordinary sense, but as the working day neces 
sary to the production of an average daily product; and tba* 
average daily product is determined in so crafty a way that n<> 
Cyclops would be done with it in 24 hours. In dry words, tk* 
Reglement itself declares with true Russian irony that by 1" 
working days one must understand the product of the manual 
labour of 36 days, by 1 day of field labour 3 days, and by 1 day 

free. The German colonists in Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, and Eastern Prus 
sia, were even legally acknowledged as free men. The victory of the nobility in thi 
peasants war put an end to that. Not only were the conquered South German 
peasants again enslaved. From the middle of the 16th century the peasants o : 
Eastern Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, and Silesia, and soon after the free peas 
ants of Schleswig-Holstein were degraded to the condition of serfs. (Maurer, 
Fronhofe iv. vol., Meitten, der Boden des preussischen Staats. Hansen, Leibeiger- 
schaft in Schleswig-Holstein. ED.) 

The Working Day. 263 

of wood carrying in like manner three times as much. In all, 
42 corvee days. To this had to be added the so-called jobagie, 
service due to the lord for extraordinary occasions. In propor 
tion to the size of its population, every village has to furnish 
annually a definite contingent to the jobagie. This additional 
corvee is estimated at 14 days for each Wallachian peasant 
Thus the prescribed corvee amounts to 56 working days yearly. 
But the agricultural year in Wallachia numbers in consequence 
of the severe climate only 210 days, of which 40 for Sundays 
and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather, together 70 
days, do not count. 140 working days remain. The ratio of 
the corvee to the necessary labour f for 66f% gi ve s a much 
smaller rate of surplus-value than that which regulates the 
labour of the English agricultural of factory labourer. This 
is, however, only the legally prescribed corvee. And in a 
spirit yet more "liberal" than the English Factory Acts, the 
"Reglement organique" has known how to facilitate its own 
evasion. After it has made 56 days out of 12, the nominal 
days work of each of the 56 corvee days is again so arranged 
that a portion of it must fall on the ensuing day. In one day, 
e.g., must be weeded an extent of land, which, for this work, 
especially in maize plantations, needs twice as much time. 
The legal day s work for some kinds of agricultural labour is 
interpretable in such a way that the day begins in May and 
ends in October. In Moldavia conditions are still harder. 
"The corvee days of the Reglement organique/ " cried a Boy- 
ard, drunk with victory, "amount to 365 days in the year." l 
If the Reglement organique of the Danubian provinces was 
a positive expression of the greed for surplus-labour which 
every paragraph legalised, the English Factory Acts are the 
negative expression of the same greed. These acts curb the 
passion of capital for a limitless draining of labour-power, by 
forcibly limiting the working day by state regulations, made 
by a state that is ruled by capitalist and landlord. Apart from 
the working-class movement that daily grew more threatening, 
the limiting of factory labour was dictated by the same neces- 

1 Further details are to be found in E. Regnault s "Histoire politique et sociale d*t 
Principautla Danubiennes." Paris, 1855. 

264 Capitalist Production. 

sity which spread guano over the English fields. The same 

blind eagerness for plunder that in the one case exhausted the 

soil, had, in the other, torn up by the roots the living force of 

, the nation. Periodical epidemics speak on this point as 

I clearly as the diminishing military standard in Germany and 

France. 1 

The Factory Act of 1850 now in force (1867) allows for the 
average working-day 10 hours, i.e., for the first 5 days 12 
hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., including ^ an hour for breakfas;, 
and an hour for dinner, and thus leaving 10 working hours, 
and 8 hours for Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., of which | 
an hour is subtracted for breakfast. 60 working hours are 
left, 10 J for each of the first 5 days, 7 for the last. 2 Certai.i 
guardians of these laws are appointed, Factory Inspectors, di 
rectly under the Home Secretary, whose reports are published 
half-yearly by order of Parliament. They give regular and 
official statistics of the capitalistic greed for surplus-labour . 
Let us listen, for a moment, to the Factory Inspectors. 5 

1 "In general and within certain limits, exceeding the medium size of their kinc , 
is evidence of the prosperity of organic beings. As to man, his bodily height lessen* 
if his due growth is interfered with, either by physical or social condition*. In all 
European countries in which the conscription holds, since its introduction, th; 
medium height of adult men, and generally their fitness for military service, hai 
diminished. Before the revolution (1789), the minimum for the infantry in Franc: 
was 165 centimetres; in 1818 (law of March 10th), 157; by the law of 1852, 15<5 
c. m. ; on the average in France more than half are rejected on account of deficien: 
height or bodily weakness. The military standard in Saxony was in 1780, 178 c. m. 
It is now 155. In Prussia it is 157. According to the statement of Dr. Meyer in 
the Bavarian Gazette, May 9th, 1862, the result of an average of 9 years is, that ii. 
Prussia out of 1000 conscripts 716 were unfit for military service, 317 because o: 
deficiency in height, and 399 because of bodily defects. . . . Berlin in 1858 
could not provide its contingent of recruits; it was 156 men short." J. von Liebig 
"Die Chemie in mrer Anwendung auf Agrikultur und Physiologic, 1863," 7th Ed., 
vol 1., pp. 117, 118. 

The history of the Factory Act of 1850 will be found in the course of thb 

*I only touch here and there on the period from the beginning of modern in 
dustry in England to 1845. For this period I refer the reader to "Die Lage dei 
arbeitenden Klasse in England, von Friedrich Engels, Leipzig, 1845." How com 
pletely Engels understood the nature of the capitalist mode of production is shown 
by the Factory Reports, Reports on Mines, &c., that have appeared since 1845, and 
how wonderfully he painted the circumstances in detail is seen on the most super 
ficial comparison of his work with the official reports of the Children s Employment 
Commission, published 18 to 20 years later (1863-1867). These deal especially with 
the branches of industry in which the Factory Acts had not, up to 1862, been intro 
duced, in fact are not yet introduced. Here, then, little ot no alteration had been 
enforced, by authority, in the conditions painted by Engels. I borrow my examples 

The Working Day. 265 

"The fraudulent millowner begins work at a quarter of EJQ hour 
(sometimes more, sometimes less) before 6 a.m., and leaves off 
a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 
6 p.m. lie takes 5 minutes from the beginning and from the 
end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 10 
minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally al 
lowed for dinner. He works for a quarter of an hour (some 
times more, sometimes less after 2 p.m. on Saturday. Thus 
his gain is 

Before 6 a. m 15 minutes. 

After 6 p. m 15 

At breakfast time 10 

At dinner time . . , 20 " 

Five days 300 minutes. 

On Saturday before 6 . m 15 minutes. 

At breakfast time 10 " 

After 2 p. m 15 " 

40 minutes. 
Total weekly 340 minutes. 

Or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 
working weeks in the year (allowing two for holidays and 
occasional stoppages) is equal to 27 working days." l 

"Five minutes a day s increased work, multiplied by 50 
weeks, are equal to two and a half days of produce in the 
year." 9 

"An additional hour a day gained by small instalments be 
fore 6 a.m., after 6 p.m., and at the beginning and end of the 

chiefly from the free trade period after 1848, that age of paradise, of which the 
commercial travellers for the great firm of free trade, blatant as ignorant, tell such 
fabulous tales. For the rest England figures here in the forground because she is 
the classic representative of capitalist production, and she alone has a continuous 
set of official statistics of the things we are considering. 

1 Suggestions, &c. by Mr. L. Horner, Inspector of Factories in : Factory Regula 
tions Act. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 9th August, 1859, 
P. 4, 6. 

"Reports of the Inspector of Factories for the ialf year, October, 1856, p. 85. 

266 Capitalist Production. 

times nominally fixed for meals, is nearly equivalent to work 
ing 13 months in the year." 1 

.. Crises during which production is interrupted and the fac 
tories work "short time," i.e., for only a part of the week, 
naturally do not affect the tendency to extend the working 
day. The less business there is, the more profit has to be made 
on the business done. The less time spent in work, the more 
of that time has to be turned into surplus labour-time. 

Thus the Factory Inspector s report on the period of tho 
crisis from 1857 to 1858 : 

"It may seem inconsistent that there should be any over 
working at a time when trade is so bad; but that very bad 
ness leads to the transgression by unscrupulous men, they ge; 

the extra profit of it In the last half year, says Leonard 

Homer, 122 mills in my district have been given up ; 143 wero 
found standing," yet, overwork is continued beyond the legal 
hours. 2 

"For a great part of the time," says Mr. Howell, "owing to 
the depression of trade, many factories were altogether closed, 
and a still greater number were working short time. I continue, 
however, to receive about the usual number of complaints tha ; 
half, or three-quarters of an hour in the day, are snatched from 
the workers by encroaching upon the times professedly allowed 
for rest and refreshment." 8 The same phenomenon was repro 
duced on a smaller scale during the frightful cotton-crisis from 
1861 to 1865. 4 "It is sometimes advanced by way of excuse, 
when persons are found at work in a factory, either at a mea. 
hour, or at some illegal time, that they will not leave the mill a ; 
the appointed hour, and that compulsion is necessary to force 
them to cease work [cleaning their machinery, &c.], especially 
on Saturday afternoons. But, if the hands remain in a factor} 
after the machinery has ceased to revolve . . . they would not 
have been so employed if sufficient time had been set apart 

1 Reports, &c., 30th April, 1858, p. 9. 

1 Reports, &c., 1. c., p. 43. 

Reports, &c., 1. c., p. 25. 

4 Reports, &c., for the half year ending 30th April, 1861. Sec Appendix No. 2; 
Reports, &c., 31st October, 1862, p. 7, 62, 63. The violations of the Acts becarne 
more numerous during the last half year 1863. Cf. Reports, &c., ending 31st 
October, 1863, p. 7. 

The Working Day. 267 

specially for cleaning, &c., either before 6 a.m. [sic /] or before 
2 p. m. on Saturday afternoons." 1 

"The profit to be gained by it (over-working in violation of 
the Act) appears to be, to many, a greater temptation than they 
can resist; they calculate upon the chance of not being found 
out; and when they see the small amount of penalty and costs, 
which those who have been convicted have had to pay, they 
find that if they should be detected there will still be a con 
siderable balance of gain. . . . 2 In cases where the additional 
time is gained by a multiplication of small thefts in the course 
of the day, there are insuperable difficulties to the inspectors 
making out a case." 3 

These "small thefts" of capital from the labourer s meal and 
recreation time, the factory inspectors also designate as "petty 
pilfering of minutes," 4 "snatching a few minutes," 5 or, aa 
the labourers technically called them, "nibbling and cribbling 
at meal times." 6 

It is evident that in this atmosphere the formation of sur 
plus-value by surplus-labour, is not secret. "If you allow me," 
said a highly respectable master to me, "to work only ten min 
utes in the day over-time, you put one thousand a year in my 
pocket." 7 "Moments are the elements of profit." 8 

1 Reports, &c., October 31st, 1860, p. 23. With what fanaticism, according to the 
evidence of manufacturers given in courts of law, their hands set themselves against 
every interruption in factory labour, the following curious circumstance shows. In 
the beginning of June, 1836, information reached the magistrates of Dewsbury 
(Yorkshire) that the owners of 8 large mills in the neighbourhood of Batley had 
violated the Factory Acts. Some of these gentlemen were accused of having kept 
at work 6 boys between 12 and 15 years of age, from 6 a.m. on Friday to 4 p.m. on 
the following Saturday, not allowing them any respite except for meals and one 
hour for sleep at midnight. And these children had to do this ceaseless labour of 
30 hours in the "shoddy-hole," as the hole is called, in which the woolen rags are 
pulled in pieces, and where a dense atmosphere of dust, shreds, &c., forces even the 
adult workman to cover his mouth continually with handkerchiefs for the protec 
tion of his lungs! The accused gentlemen affirm in lieu of taking an oath as 
quakers they were too scrupulously religious to take an oath that they had, in their 
great compassion for the unhappy children, allowed them four hours for sleep, but 
the obstinate children absolutely would not go to bed. The quaker gentlemen 
were mulcted in 20. Dryden anticipated these gentry: 
"Fox full fraught in seeming santftity, 
That feared an oath, but like the devil would lie. 
That look d like Lent, and had the holy leer, 
And durst not sinJ before he said his prayer 1" 

8 Rep., 31st Oct., 1856, p. 84. 1. c. p., p. 48. 1. c., p. 48. 

1. c., p. 35. M. c., p. 48. M. c., p. 4. 

Report of the Insp., &c., 30th April, 1860, p. 60. 

268 Capitalist Production. 

Nothing is from this point of view more characteristic than 
the designation of the workers who work full time as "full- 
timers," and the children under 13 who are only allowed to 
work 6 hours as "half-timers." The worker is here nothing 
more than personified labour-time. All individual distinctions 
are merged in those of "full-timers" and "half-timers." 1 



We have hitherto considered the tendency to the extension of 
the working day, the were-wolf s hunger for surplus-labour in 
a department where the monstrous exactions, not surpassed, 
says an English bourgeois economist, by the cruelties of tho 
Spaniards to the American red-skins, 2 caused capital at last to 
be bound by the chains of legal regulations. Now, let us cast 
a glance at certain branches of production in which the exploi 
tation of labour is either free from fetters to this day, or was 
so yesterday. 

Mr. Broughton Charlton, county magistrate, declared a<j 
chairman of a meeting held at the Assembly Rooms, Notting 
ham, on the 14th of January, 1860, "that there was an amount; 
of privation and suffering among that portion of the popula 
tion connected with the lace trade, unknown in other parts o : 
the kingdom, indeed, in the civilized world . . . Children o: : 
nine or ten years are dragged from their squalid beds at two, 
three, or four o clock in the morning and compelled to work for 
a bare subsistence until ten, eleven, or twelve at night, their 
limbs wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faceM 
whitening, and their humanity absolutely sinking into a stone- 
like torpor, utterly horrible to contemplate We are my, 

surprised that Mr. Mallett, or any other manufacturer, shoulc. 
stand forward and protest against discussion The 

1 This is the official expression both in the factories and in the reports. 

8 "The cupidity of mill-owners whose cruelties in the pursuit of gain have hardly 
been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards in the conquest of America ir 
the pursuit of gold." John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd 
Ed. London, 1835, p. 114. The theoretical part of this book, a kind of hand-book o: 
Political Economy, i, considering the time of its publication, original in some parts, 
e.g., on commercial crises. The historical part is, to a great extent, a shameless 
plagiarism of Sir F. M. Eden s "History of the Poor," London, 1799. 

The Working Day. 269 

system, as the Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of 
unmitigated slavery, socially, physically, morally, and spirit 
ually What can be thought of a town which holds a public 

meeting to petition that the period of labour for men shall be 

diminished to eighteen hours a day? We declaim 

against the Virginian and Carolina cotton-planters. Is their 
black-market, their lash, and their barter of human flesh more 
detestable than this slow sacrifice of humanity which takes 
place in order that veils and collars may be fabricated for the 
benefit of capitalists ? n 

The potteries of Staffordshire have, during the last 22 years, 
been the subject of three parliamentary inquiries. The result 
is embodied in Mr. Scriven s Report of 1841 to the "Children s 
Employment Commissioners," in the report of Dr. Greenhow 
of 1860 published by order of the medical officer of the Privy 
Council (Public Health, 3rd Report, 112-113), lastly, in the 
report of Mr. Longe of 1862 in the "First Report of the 
Children s Employment Commission, of the 13th June, 1863." 
For my purpose it is enough to take, from the reports of 1860 
and 1863, some depositions of the exploited children them 
selves. From the children we may form an opinion as to the 
adults, especially the girls and women, and that in a branch of 
industry by the side of which cotton-spinning appears an agree 
able and healthful occupation. 2 

, William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when 
he began to work. He "ran moulds" (carried ready-moulded 
articles into the drying room, afterwards bringing back the 
empty mould) from the beginning. He came to work every 
day in the week at 6 a.m., and left off about 9 p.m. "I work 
till 9 o clock at night six days in the week. I have done so 
seven or eight weeks." Fifteen hours of labour for a child of 
7 years old ! J. Murray, 12 years of age, says : "I turn jigger, 
and run moulds. I come at 6. Sometimes I come at 4. I 
worked all last night, till 6 o clock this morning. I have not 
been in bed since the night before last. There were eight or 
nine other boys working last night. All but one have come this 

1 "Daily Telegraph," 17th January, 1860. 
Cf. F. Engels Lage, etc., p. 249-61. 

270 Capitalist Production. 

morning. I get 3 shillings and sixpence. I do not get any 
more for working at night. I worked two nights last week." 
Fernyhough, a boy of ten: "I have not always an hour (for 
dinner). I have only half an hour sometimes; on Thursday, 
Friday, and Saturday." 1 

Dr. Greenhow states that the average duration of life in the 
pottery districts of Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolstanton is ex 
traordinarily short. Although in the district of Stoke, only 
36.6% and in Wolstanton only 30.4% of the adult male 
population above 20 are employed in the potteries, among tho 
men of that age in the first district more than half, in tho 
second, nearly f of the whole deaths are the result of pul 
monary diseases among the potters. Dr. Boothroyd, a medical 
practitioner at Hanley, says: "Each successive generation o:f 
potters is more dwarfed and less robust than the preceding 
one." In like manner another doctor, Mr. M Bean : "Since ho 
began to practise among the potters 25 years ago, he has ob 
served a marked degeneration especially shown in diminution 
of stature and breadth." These statements are taken from tho 
report of Dr. Greenhow in I860. 2 

From the report of the Commissioners in 1863, the follow 
ing: Dr. J. T. Arledge, senior physician of the North Staf 
fordshire Infirmary, says: "The potters as a class, both mer. 
and women, represent a degenerated population, both phys 
ically and morally. They are, as a rule, stunted in growth 
ill-shaped, and frequently ill-formed in the chest ; they becomo 
prematurely old, and are certainly short-lived; they are 
phlegmatic and bloodless, and exhibit their debility of consti 
tution by obstinate attacks of dyspepsia, and disorders of thci 
liver and kidneys, and by rheumatism. But of all diseases 
they are especially prone to chest-disease, to pneumonia, 
phthisis, bronchitis, and asthma. One form would appear pe 
culiar to them, and is known as potter s asthma, or potter * 
consumption. Scrofula attacking the glands, or bones, or othei 
parts of the body, is a disease of two-thirds or more of the 

* Children s Employment Commission. First report, etc., 1868. Evidence, p. 16, 
19, 18. 

Public Health, 3rd report, etc., p. 102, 104, 106. 

The Working Day. 271 

potters That the degenerescence* of the population of 

this district is not even greater than it is, is due to the constant 
recruiting from the adjacent country, and intermarriages with 
more healthy races." 1 

Mr. Charles Parsons, late house surgeon of the same institu 
tion, writes in a letter to Commissioner Longe, amongst other 
things : "I can only speak from personal observation and not 
from statistical data( but I do not hesitate to assert that my 
indignation has been aroused again and again at the sight of 
poor children whose health has been sacrificed to gratify the 
avarice of either parents or employers." He enumerates the 
causes of the diseases of the potters, and sums them up in the 
phrase, "long hours." The report of the Commission trusts 
that "a manufacture which has assumed so prominent a place 
in the whole world, will not long be subject to the remark that 
its great success is accompanied with the physical deterioration, 
wide-spread bodily suffering, and early death of the work 
people . . by whose labour and skill such great results have 
been achieved." 2 And all that holds of the potteries in Eng 
land is true of those in Scotland. 8 

The manufacture of lucifer matches dates from 1833, from 
the discovery of the method of applying phosphorus to the 
match itself. Since 1845 this manufacture has rapidly devel 
oped in England, and has extended especially amongst the 
thickly populated parts of London as well as in Manchester, 
Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Newcastle and Glas 
gow. With it has spread the form of lockjaw, which a Vienna 
physician in 1845 discovered to be a disease peculiar to lucifer- 
matchmakers. Half the workers are children under thirteen, 
and young persons under eighteen. The manufacture is on 
account of its unhealthiness and unpleasantness in such bad 
odour that only the most miserable part of the labouring class, 
half-starved widows and so forth, deliver up their children 
to it, "the ragged, half-starved, untaught children." 4 

Of the witnesses that Commissioner White examined 

1 Child. Empl. Comm. I. Report, p. 24. 

Children s Employment Commission, p. 22, and xi 

1. c. p. xlvii. 

I. c. p. liv. 

272 Capitalist Production. 

(1863), 270 were under 18, 50 under 10, 10 only 8, and 5 
only 6 years old. A range of the working day from 12 to 14 
or 15 hours, night-labour, irregular meal times, meals for the 
most part taken in the very workrooms that are pestilent with 
phosphorus. Dante would have found the worst horrors of his 
Inferno surpassed in this manufacture. 

In the manufacture of paper-hangings the coarser sorts are 
printed by machine; the finer by hand (block-printing). The 
most active business months are from the beginning of October 
to the end of April. During this time the work goes on fast 
and furious without intermission from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 
further into the night. 

J. Leach deposes: "Last winter six out of nineteen girls 
were away from ill-health at one time from over-work. I have 
to bawl at them to keep them awake." W. Duffy: "I have 
seen when the children could none of them keep their eyes 
open for the work ; indeed, none of us could." J. Lightbourne : 
"Am 13 ... We worked last winter till 9 (evening), and the 
winter before till 10. I used to cry with sore feet every night 
last winter." G. Apsden : "That boy of mine . . . when he 
was 7 years old I used to carry him on my back to and fro 
through the snow, and he used to have 16 hours a day ... I 
have often knelt down to feed him as he stood by the machine, 
for he could not leave it or stop." Smith, the managing 
partner of a Manchester factory : "We (he means his "hands" 
who work for "us") work on, with no stoppage for meals, so 
that the day s work of 10J hours is finished by 4.30. p.m., and 
all after that is overtime." 1 (Does this Mr. Smith take no 
meals himself during 10 hours?) "We (this same Smith) 
seldom leave off working before 6 p.m. (he means leave off the 
consumption of our labour-power machines), so that we 
(iterum Crispinus) are really working overtime the whole year 
round For all these, children and adults alike (152 

1 This is not to be taken in the same sense as our surplus-labour time. These 
gentlemen consider 10^ hours of labour as the normal working day, which includes 
of course the normal surplus-labour. After this begins "overtime" which is paid a 
little better. It will be seen later that the labour expended during the so-called 
normal day is paid below its value, so that the overtime is simply a capitalist trick 
in order to extort more surplus-labor, which it would still be, even if the labour- 
power expended during the normal working day were properly paid 

The Working Day. 273 

children and young persons and 140 adults), the average work 
for the last 18 months has been at the very least 7 days, 5 
hours, or 78-J hours a week. For the six weeks ending May 
2nd this year (1862), the average was higher 8 days or 84 
hours a week." Still this same Mr. Smith, who is so extremely 
devoted to the pluralis majestatis, adds with a smile, "Machine 
work is not great." So the employers in the block-printing 
say : "Hand labour is more healthy than machine-work." On 
the whole, manufacturers declare with indignation against tho 
proposal "to stop the machines at least during meal times/ 
A clause, says Mr. Otley, manager of a wall-paper factory in 
the Borough, "which allowed work between, say 6 a.m. and 9 
p.m. . . . would suit us (!) very well, but the factory hours, 6 
a.m. to 6 p.m., are not suitable. Our machine is always 
stopped for dinner. (What generosity!) There is no waste 
of paper and colour to speak of. But," he adds sympatheti 
cally, "I can understand the loss of time not being liked. 
The report of the Commission opines with naivete that the 
fear of some "leading firms" of losing time, i.e., the time for 
appropriating the labour of others, and thence losing profit 
is not a sufficient reason for allowing children under 13, and 
young persons under 18, working 12 to 16 hours per day, to 
lose their dinner, nor for giving it to them as coal and water 
are supplied to the steam-engine, soap to wool, oil to the 
wheel as merely auxiliary material to the instruments of 
labour, during the process of production itself. 1 

No branch of industry in England (we do not take into 
account the making of bread by machinery recently intro 
duced) has preserved up to the present day a method of pro 
duction so archaic, so as we see from the poets of the Roman 
Empire pre-christian, as baking. But capital, as was said 
earlier, is at first indifferent as to the technical character of the 
labour-process; it begins by taking it ju?t as it finds it. 

The incredible adulteration of bread, especially in London, 
was first revealed by the House of Commons Committee "OH 
the adulteration of articles of food * (1855-56), and Dr. 

1 L c. Evidence, p. 123, 124, 125, 140, and 04. 


274 Capitalist Production. 

HassaH s work, "Adulterations detected." 1 The consequence 
of these revelations was the Act of August 6th, 1860, "for 
preventing the adulteration of articles of food and drink," an 
inoperative law ; as it naturally shows the tenderest consider 
ation for every free-trader who determines by the buying or 
selling of adulterated commodities "to turn an honest penny." 2 
The Committee itself formulated more or less naively its con 
viction that free-trade meant essentially trade with adulter 
ated, or as the English ingeniously put it, "sophisticated" 
goods. In fact this kind of sophistry knows better than Prota 
goras how to make white black, and black white, and better 
than the Eleatics how to demonstrate ad oculos that everything 
is only appearance. 3 

At all events the committee had directed the attention of 
the public to its "daily bread," and therefore to the baking 
trade. At the same time in public meetings and in petitions 
to Parliament rose the cry of the London journeymen bakers 
against their over-work, &c. The cry was so urgent that Mr. 
H. S. Tremenheere, also a member of the Commission of 1863 
several times mentioned, was appointed Royal Commissioner 
of Inquiry. His report, 4 together with the evidence given, 
roused not the heart of the public but its stomach. English 
men, always well up in the Bible, knew well enough that man, 
unless by elective grace a capitalist, or landlord, or sinecurist, 

1 Alum finely powdered, or mixed with salt, is a normal article of commerce bear 
ing the significant name qf "bakers stuff." 

* Soot is a well-known and very energetic form of carbon, and forms a manure 
that capitalistic chimney-sweeps sell to English farmers. Now in 1862 the British 
juryman had in a law-suit to decide whether soot, with which, unknown to the 
buyer 90% of dust and sand are mixed, is genuine soot in the commercial sense or 
adulterated soot in the legal sense. The "amis du commerce" decided it to be 
genuine commercial soot, and non-suited the plaintiff farmer, who had in addition 
to pay the costs of the suit. 

1 The French chemist, Chevallier, in his treatise on the "sophistications" of 
commodities, enumerates for many of the 600 or more articles which he passes in 
review, 10, 20, 30 different methods of adulteration. He adds that he does not know 
all the methods, and does not mention all that he knows. He gives 6 kinds of 
adulteration of sugar, 9 of olive oil, 10 of butter, 12 of salt, 19 of milk, 20 of 
.bread, 23 of brandy, 24 of meal, 28 of chocolate, 30 of wine, 32 of coffee, etc. 
Even God Almighty does not escape this fate. See Ronard de Card, on the falsifi 
cations of the materials of the Sacrament. (De la falsification des substances sacra 
mentelles, Paris, 1856.) 

* "Report, &c., relating to the grievances complained of by the journeymen bakers 
ftc., London, 1862," and "Second Report &c., London, 1863." 

The Working Day. 275 

is commanded to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but 
they did not know that he had to eat daily in his bread a certain 
quantity of human perspiration mixed with the discharge of 
abcesses, cobwebs, dead black-beetles, and putrid German yeast, 
without counting alum, sand, and other agreeable mineral in 
gredients. Without any regard to his holiness, Freetrade, the 
free baking-trade was therefore placed under the supervision 
of the State inspectors (Close of the Parliamentary session of 
1863), and by the same Act of Parliament, work from 9 in the 
evening to 5 in the morning was forbidden for journeymen 
bakers under 18. The last clause speaks volumes as to the 
over-work in this old-fashioned, homely line of business. 

"The work of a London journeyman baker begins, as a rule, 
at about eleven at night. At that hour he makes the dough/ 
a laborious process, which lasts from half-an-hour to three 
quarters of an hour, according to the size of the batch or the 
labour bestowed upon it He then lies down upon the knead- 
ing-board, which is also the covering of the trough in which 
the dough is made / and with a sack under him, and another 
rolled up as a pillow, he sleeps for about a couple of hours. 
He is then engaged in a rapid and continuous labour for about 
five hours throwing out the dough, scaling it off/ moulding 
it, putting it into the oven, preparing and baking rolls and 
fancy bread, taking the batch bread out of the oven, and up 
into the shop, &c., &c. The temperature of a bakehouse ranges 
from about 75 to upwards of 90 degrees, and in the smaller 
bakehouses approximates usually to the higher rather than to 
the lower degree of heat. When the business of making the 
bread, rolls, &c., is over, that of its distribution begins, and a 
considerable proportion of the journeymen in the trade, after 
working hard in the manner described during the night, are 
upon their legs for many hours during the day, carrying bas 
kets, or wheeling hand-carts, and sometimes again in the bake 
house, leaving off work at various hours between 1 and 6 pan. 
according to the season of the year, or the amount and nature 
of their master s business; while others are again engaged in 
the bakehouse in bringing out more batches until late in the 

276 Capitalist Production. 

, afternoon. 1 . . . During what is called the London season/ the 
operatives belonging to the full-priced bakers at the West 
End of the to\vn ; generally begin work at 11 p.m., and are en 
gaged in making the bread, with one or two short (sometimes 
very short) intervals of rest, up to 8 o clock the next morning. 
They are then engaged all day long, up to 4, 5, 6, and as late 
as 7 o clock in the evening carrying out bread, or sometimes in 
the afternoon in the bakehouse again, assisting in the biscuit- 
baking. They may have, after they have done their work, 
sometimes five or six, sometimes only four or five hours sleep 
before they begin again. On Fridays they always begin 
sooner, some about ten o clock, and continue in some cases, at 
work, either in making or delivering the bread up to 8 p.m. on 
Saturday night, but more generally up to 4 or 5 o clock, 
Sunday morning. On Sundays the men must attend twice or 
three times during the day for an hour or two to make prepa 
rations for the next day s bread The men employed 

by the underselling masters (who sell their bread under the 
full price, and who, as already pointed out, comprise three- 
fourths of the London bakers) have not only to work on the 
average longer hours, but their work is almost entirely confined 
to the bakehouse. The underselling masters generally sell their 
bread .... in the shop. If they send it out, which is not com 
mon, except as supplying chandlers shops, they usually employ 
other hands for that purpose. It is not their practice to deliver 

bread from house to house. Towards the end of the week 

the men begin on Thursday night at 10 o clock, and continue on 
with only slight intermission until late on Saturday evening." 2 
VEven the bourgeois intellect understands the position of the 
"underselling" masters. "The unpaid labour of the men was 
made the source whereby the competition was carried on." 3 
And the "full-priced" baker denounces his underselling com 
petitors to the Commission of Inquiry as thieves of foreign 
labour and adulterators. "They only exist now by first de 
frauding the public, and next getting 18 hours work out of 
their men for 12 hours wages." 4 

1. c. First Report, &c., p. vi. 

1. c. p. Ixxi. "George Read, The History of Baking, London, 1848, p. 16. 

Report (First) &c. Evidence of the "full-priced" bakr Cheeseman, p. 103. 

The Working Day. 277 

The adulteration of bread and the formation of a class of 
bakers that sells the bread below the full price, date from the 
beginning of the 18th century, from the time when the 
corporate character of the trade was lost, and the capitalist in 
the form of the miller or flour-factor, rises behind the nominal 
master baker. 1 Thus was laid the foundation of capitalistic 
production in this trade, of the unlimited extension of the 
working day and of night labour ; although the latter only 
since 1824 gained a serious footing, even in London. 2 

After what has just been said, it will be understood that the 
Report of the Commission classes journeymen bakers among 
the short-lived labourers, who, having by good luck escaped the 
normal decimation of the children of the working-class, rarely 
reach the age of 42. Nevertheless, the baking trade is always 
overwhelmed with applicants. The sources of the supply of 
these labour-powers to London are Scotland, the western agri 
cultural districts of England, and Germany. 

*In the years 1858-60, the journeymen bakers in Ireland 
organized at their own expense great meetings to agitate 
against night and Sunday work. The public e.g., at the 
Dublin meeting in May, 1860 took their part with Irish 
warmth. As a result of this movement, Jay labor alone was 
successfully established in Wexford, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Water- 
ford, &c. a ln Limerick, where the grievances of the journey 
men are demonstrated to be excessive, the movement has been 
defeated by the opposition of the master bakers, the miller 
bakers being the greatest opponents. The example of Limerick 
led to a retrogression in Ennis and Tipperary. In Cork, where 
the strongest possible demonstration of feeling took place, the 
masters, by exercising their power of turning the men out of 
employment, have defeated the movement. In Dublin, the 
master bakers have offered the most determined opposition to 

1 George Read, 1. c. At the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th cen 
turies the factors (agents) that crowded into every possible trade were still de 
nounced as "public nuisances." Thus the Grand Jury at the quarter session of the 
Justices of the Peace for the County of Somerset, addressed a presentment to the 
Lower House which, among other things, states, "that these factors of Blackwell Hall 
are a Public Nuisance and Prejudice to, the Clothing Trade, and ought to be put 
down as a Nuisance." The case of our English Wool, &c., London, 1685, p. , 7. 

First Report, &c. 

278 Capitalist Production. 

the movement, and by discountenancing as much as possible 
the journeymen promoting it, have succeeded in leading the 
men into acquiescence in Sunday work and night work, con 
trary to the convictions of the men. 771 

The Committee of the English Government, which Govern 
ment, in Ireland, is armed to the teeth, and generally knows 
how to show it, remonstrates in mild, though funereal, tones 
with the implacable master bakers of Dublin, Limerick, Cork, 
c. : "The Committee believe that the hours of labour are 
limited by natural laws, which cannot be violated with im 
punity. That for master bakers to induce their workmen, by 
the fear of losing employment, to violate their religious con 
victions and their better feelings, to disobey the laws of the 
land, and to disregard public opinion (this all refers to Sunday 
labour), is calculated to provoke ill-feeling between workmen 
and masters, . . . and affords an example dangerous to religion, 
morality, and social order. . . . The Committee believe that 
any constant work beyond 12 hours a-day encroaches on the 
domestic and private life of the working man, and so leads to 
disastrous moral results, interfering with each man s home, and 
the discharge of his family duties as a son, a brother, a hus 
band, a father. That work beyond 12 hours has a tendency to 
undermine the health of the working man, and so leads to 
premature old age and death, to the great injury of families of 
working men, thus deprived of the care and support of the 
head of the family when most required." 2 

So far, we have dealt with Ireland. On the other side of 
the channel, in Scotland, the agricultural labourer, the plough 
man, protests against his 13-14 hours work in the most in 
clement climate, with 4 hours additional work on Sunday (in 
this land of Sabbatarians!), 3 whilst, at the same time, three 
railway men are standing before a London coroner s jury a 
guard, an engine-driver, a signalman. A tremendous railway 
accident has hurried hundreds of passengers into another 
world. The negligence of the employes is the cause of the 

1 Report of Committee on the Baking Trade in Ireland for 1861. 
I. c. 

Public meeting of agricultural labourers at Lasswade, near Edinburgh, January 
ftth, 1866. (See "Workman s Advocate," January 13th, 1866.) The formation 

The Working Day. 279 

misfortune. They declare with one voice before the jury that 
ten or twelve years before, their labour only lasted eight hours 
a-day. During the last five or six years it had been screwed 
up to 14, 18, and 20 hours, and under a specially severe pres 
sure of holiday-makers, at times of excursion trains, it often 
lasted for 40 or 50 hours without a break. They were ordinary 
men, not Cyclops. At a certain point their labour-power 
failed. Torpor seized them. Their brain ceased to think, their 
eyes to see. The thoroughly "respectable" British jurymen 
answered by a verdict that sent them to the next assizes on a 
charge of manslaughter, and, in a gentle "rider" to their ver 
dict, expressed the pious hope that the capitalistic magnates of 
the railways would, in future, be more extravagant in the 
purchase of a sufficient quantity of labour-power, and more 
"abstemious," more "self-denying," more "thrifty," in the 
draining of paid labour-power. 1 

From the motley crowd of labourers of all callings, ages, 

since the close of 1865 of a Trades Union among the agricultural labourers at first 
in Scotland is a historic event In one of the most oppressed agricultural districts 
of England, Buckinghamshire, the labourers, in March, 1867, made a great strike for 
the raising of their weekly wage from 9-10 shillings to 12 shillings. (It will be seen 
from the preceding passage that the movement of the English agricultural proletariat, 
entirely crushed since the suppression of its violent manifestations after 1830, and 
especially since the introduction of the new Poor Laws, begins again in the sixties, 
until it becomes finally epoch-making in 1872. I return to this in the 2nd volume, 
as well as to the blue books that have appeared since 1867 on the position of the Eng 
lish land labourers. Addendum to the 3rd ed.) 

1 "Reynolds Newspaper," January, 1866. Every week this same paper has, 
under the sensational headings, "Fearful and fatal accidents," "Appalling tragedies," 
&c., a whole list of fresh railway catastrophes. On these an employe" on the North 
Staffordshire line comments: "Everyone knows the consequences that may occur if 
the driver and fireman of a locomotive engine are not continually on the look-out. 
How can that be expected from a man who has been at such work for 29 or 80 
hours, exposed to the weather, and without rest. The following is an example which 
is of very frequent occurrence: One fireman commenced work on the Monday morn 
ing at a very early hour. When he had finished what is called a day s work, he had 
been on duty 14 hours 50 minutes. Before he had time to get his tea, he was 
again called on for duty. . . . The next time he finished he had been on duty 14 
hours 25 minutes, making a total of 29 hours 15 minutes without intermission. 
The rest of the week s work was made up as follows: Wednesday, 15 hours; Thurs 
day, 15 hours 85 minutes; Friday, 14 Yi hours; Saturday, 14 hours 10 minutes, making 
a total for the week of 88 hours 40 minutes. Now, sir, fancy his astonishment on 
being paid 6J4 days for the whole. Thinking it was a mistake, he applied to the time 
keeper, . . . and inquired what they considered a day s work, and was told 18 
hours for a good man (i.e., 78 hours. ... He then asked for what he had made 
over and above the 78 hours per week, but was refused. However, he was at last 
told they would give him another quarter, ,., lOd." 1. c,, 4th February, I860. 

a8o Capitalist Production. 

sexes, that press on us more busily than the souls of the slain 
on Ulysses, on whom without referring to the blue books 
under their arms we see at a glance the mark of over-work, 
let us take two more figures whose striking contrast proves 
that before capital all men are alike a milliner and a black 

* In the last week of June, 1863, all the London daily papers 
published a paragraph with the "sensational" heading "Death 
from simple over-work." It dealt with the death of the 
milliner, Mary Anne Walkley, 20 years of age, employed in a 
highly-respectable dressmaking establishment, exploited by a 
lady with the pleasant name of Elise. The old, often-told 
story, 1 was once more recounted. This girl worked, on an 
average, 16 hours, during the season often 30 hours, without a 
break, whilst her failing labour-power was revived by occasional 
supplies of sherry, port, or coffee. It was just now the height 
of the season. It was necessary to conjure up in the twinkling 
of an eye the gorgeous dresses for the noble ladies bidden to 
the ball in honour of the newly-imported Princess of Wales. 
Mary Anne Walkley had worked without intermission for 26 
hours, with 60 other girls, 30 in one room, that only afforded ^ 
of the cubic feet of air required for them. At night, they slept 
in pairs in one of the stifling holes into which the bedroom was 
divided by partitions of board. 2 And this was one of the best 

*Cf. F. Engels. 1. c., pp. 253, 154. 

Dr. Lctheby, Consulting Physician of the Board of Health, declared: "The mini 
mum of air for each adult ought to be in a sleeping room 300, and in a dwelling 
room 500 cubic feet." Dr. Richardson, Senior Physician to one of the London 
Hospitals: "With needlewomen of all kinds, including milliners, dressmakers, and 
ordinary sempstresses, there are three miseries over-work, deficient air, and either 
deficient food or deficient digestion. . . . Needlework, in the main, ... is 
infinitely better adapted to women than to men. But the mischiefs of the trade, 
in the metropolis especially, are that it is monopolised by some twenty-six capitalists, 
who, under the advantages that spring from capital, can bring in capital to forct 
economy out of labour. This power tells throughout the whole class. If a dress- 
makei can get a little circle of customers, such is the competition that, in her 
home, she must work to the death to hold together, and this same over-work she 
must of necessity inflict on any who may assist her. If she fail, or do not try 
independently, she must join an establishment, where her labour is not less, but 
where her money is safe. Placed thus, she becomes a mere slave, tossed about with 
the variations of society. Now at home, in one room, starving, or near to it, then 
engaged 15, 16, aye, even 18 hours out of the 24, in an air that is scarcely tolerable, 
and on food which, even if it be good, cannot be digested in the absence of pure 

The Working Day. 281 

millinery establishments in London. Mary Anne Walkley fell 
ill on the Friday ; died on Sunday, without, to the astonish 
ment of Madame Elise, having previously completed the work 
in hand. The doctor, Mr. Keys, called too late to the death 
bed, duly bore witness before the coroner s jury that "Mary 
Anne Walkley had died from long hours of work in an over 
crowded workroom, and a too small and badly-ventilated bed 
room." In order to give the doctor a lesson in good manners, 
the coroner s jury thereupon brought in a verdict that "the 
deceased had died of apoplexy, but there was reason to fear 
that her death had been accelerated by over-work in an over 
crowded workroom, &c." "Our white slaves," cried the "Morn 
ing Star," the organ of the free-traders, Cobden and Bright, 
"our white slaves, who are toiled into the grave, for the most 
part silently pine and die." 1 

"It is not in dressmakers rooms that working to death is 
the order of the day, but in a thousand other places ; in every 
place I had almost said, where a thriving business has to be 
done. . . . We will take the blacksmith as a type. If 
the poets were true, there is no mqn so hearty, so merry, as 
the blacksmith ; he rises early and strikes his sparks before 
the sun ; he eats and drinks and sleeps as no other man. 
Working in moderation, he is, in fact, in one of the best of 

air. On these victims, consumption, which is purely a disease of bad air, feeds." 
Dr. Richardson: "Work and Overwork," in "Social Science Review," 18th July, 

1 "Morning Star," 23rd June, 1863. The "Times" made use of the circumstance 
to defend the American slave owners against Bright, &c. "Very many of us think," 
says a leader of July 2nd, 1868, "that, while we work our own young women to 
death, using the scourge of starvation, instead of the crack of the whip, as the 
instrument of compulsion, we have scarcely a right to hound on fire and slaughter 
against families who were born slave owners, and who, at least, feed their slaves 
well, and work them lightly." In the same manner, the "Standard," a Tory organ, 
fell foul of the Rev. Newman Hall: "He excommunicated the slave owners, but 
prays with the fine folk who, without remorse, make the omnibus drivers and con 
ductors of London, &c., work 16 hours a-day for the wages of a dog." Finally, 
spake the oracle, Thomas Carlyle, of whom I wrote, in 1850, "Zum Teufel ist der 
Genius, der Kultus ist geblieben." In a short parable, he reduces the one great 
event of contemporary history, the American civil war, to this level, that the Peter 
of the North wants to break the bead of the Paul of the South with all his might, 
because the Peter of the North hires his labour by the day, and the Paul of the 
South hires his by the life. ("Macmillan s Magazine." Ilias Americana in nuce. 
August, 1863.) Thus, the bubble of Tory sympathy for the urban workers by no 
means for the rural has burst at last. The sum of all is slavery 1 

282 Capitalist Production. 

human positions, physically speaking. But we follow him into 
the city or town, and we see the stress of work on that strong 
man, and what then is his position in the death-rate of his 
country. In Marylebone, blacksmiths die at the rate of 31 per 
thousand per annum, or 11 above the mean of the male adults 
of the country in its entirety. The occupation, instinctive 
almost as a portion of human art, unobjectionable as a branch 
of human industry, is made by mere excess of work, the de 
stroyer of the man. He can strike so many blows per day, 
walk so many steps, breathe so many breaths, produce so much 
work, and live an average, say of fifty years; he is made to 
strike so many more blows, to walk so many more, steps, to 
breathe so many more breaths per day, and to increase alto 
gether a fourth of his life. He meets the effort ; the result is, 
that producing for a limited time a fourth more work, he dies 
at 37 for 50." 1 


Constant capital, the means of production, considered from 
the standpoint of the creation of surplus-value, only exist to 
absorb labour, and with every drop of labour a proportional 
quantity of surplus-labour. While they fail to do this, their 
mere existence causes a relative loss to the capitalist, for they 
represent during the time they lie fallow, a useless advance of 
capital. And this loss becomes positive and absolute as soon 
as the intermission of their employment necessitates additional 
outlay at the recommencement of work. The prolongation of 
the working day beyond the limits of the natural day, into 
the night, only acts as a palliative. It quenches only in a slight 
degree the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour. To 
appropriate labour during all the 24 hours of the day is, there 
fore, the inherent tendency of capitalist production. But as it 
is physically impossible to exploit the same individual labour- 
power constantly during the night as well as the day, to over 
come this physical hindrance, an alternation becomes necessary 
between the workpeople whose powers are exhausted by day, 

1 Dr. Richardson, 1. c. 

The Working Day. 283 

and those who are used up by night. This alternation may be 
effected in various ways ; e.g., it may be so arranged that part 
of the workers are one week employed on day work, the next 
week on night work. It is well-known that this relay system, 
this alternation of two sets of workers, held full sway in the 
full-blooded youth-time of the English cotton manufacture, and 
that at the present time it still flourishes, among others, in the 
cotton spinning of the Moscow district This 24 hours process 
of production exists to-day as a system in many of the branches 
of industry of Great Britain that are still "free," in the 
blast-furnaces, forges, plate-rolling mills, and other metal 
lurgical establishments in England, Wales, and Scotland. The 
working time here includes, besides the 24 hours of the 6 
working days, a great part also of the 24 hours of Sunday. 
The workers consist of men and women, adults and children 
of both sexes. The ages of the children and young persons run 
through all intermediate grades, from 8 (in some cases from 6) 
to 18. 1 

In some branches of industry, the girls and women work 
through the night together with the males. 2 

Placing on one side the generally injurious influence of 
night-labour, 8 the duration of the process of production, un- 

1 Children s Employment Commission. Third Report. Lond:: 1 ., 1864, j. iv., v., vi. 

a "Both in Staffordshire and in oouth Wale~ ; r oun j girls an.\ women are employed 
on the pit banks and on the coke heaps, not only >y -^ay but also by night. This 
practice has been often noticed in Reports presente . .o Parliament, as being attended 
with great and notorious evils. These females err ployed with the men, hardly dis 
tinguished from them in their dress, and b grimed with dirt and smoke, are exposed 
to the deterioration of character, arising from the loss of :: elf -respect, which can 
hardly fail to follow from their unfeminine occupation." (1. c. 194., p. xxvi. Cf. 
Fourth Report (1865), 61, p. xiii.) It is the same in glass-works. 

A steel manufacturer wuo employs children in night labour remarked: "It 
seems but natural that boys who work r.t night cann.t leep and get proper rest by 
day, but will be running about." (1. c. Fourth Report, 63, p. xiii.) On the im 
portance of sunlight for the maintenance and growth of t! ; body, a physician 
writes: "Light also acts upi i tho tissues of the body directly in hardening them 
and supporting their elasticity. The muscles ^f animals, when they are deprived 
of a proper amount of light, become soft and inelastic, the nervous power loses itt 
tone from defective stimulation, and the elaboration of all growth seems to b 
perverted. ... In the case of children, constant access to plenty of light during 
the day, and to the direct rays of the sun for a part of it, is most essential to 
health. Light assists in the elaboration of good plastic blood, and hardens the 
fibre after it has been laid down. It also act? as a stimulus upon the organs of 
sight, and by this means brings about more activity in the various cerebral func 
tions." Dr. W. Strange, Senior Physician of the Worcester General Hospital, from 

284 Capitalist Production. 

broken during the 24 hours, offers very welcome opportunities 
of exceeding the limits of the normal working day, e.g., in the 
branches of industry already mentioned, which are of an 
exceedingly fatiguing nature; the official working day mean? 
for each worker usually 12 hours by night or day. But the 
over-work beyond this amount is in many cases, to use the 
words of the English official report, "truly fearful." 1 

"It is impossible," the report continues, "for any mind to 
realise the amount of work described in the following passages 
as being performed by boys of from 9 to 12 years of age .... 
without coming irresistibly to the conclusion that such abuses 
of the power of parents and of employers can no longer be 
allowed to exist." 3 

"The practice of boys working at all by day and night 
turns either in the usual course of things, or at pressing times, 
seems inevitably to open the door to their not unfrequently 
working unduly long hours. These hours are, indeed, in some 
cases, not only cruelly but even incredibly long for children. 
Amongst a number of boys it will, of course, not unfrequently 
happen that one or more are from some cause absent When 
this happens, their place is made up by one or more boys, 
who work in the other turn. That this is a well understood 
system is plain . . . from the answer of the manager of 
some large rolling-mills, who, when I asked him how the 
place of the boys absent from their turn was made up, *I 
daresay, sir, you know that as well as I do, and admitted, the 

"At a rolling-mill where the proper hours were from 6 r t .m. 
to 5J p.m., a boy worked rbout four nights every week till 
8 p.m. at least . . . and this for six months. Another, at 9 
years old, sometimes made three 12-hour shifts running, and, 

whose work on "Health" (1864) this passage is taken, writes in a letter to Mr. 
White, one of the commissioners: "I Iiave had opportunities formerly, when in 
Lancashire, of observing the effects of night-work upon children, and I have no 
hesitation in saying, contrary to what some employers were fond of asserting, thpse 
children who were subjected to it soon suffered in their health." (1. c. 284, p. 65.) 
That such a question should furnish the material of serious controversy, showi 
plainly how capitalist production acts on the brain-functions of capitalists and th* 

*L C. 57, p. xii. L C. Fourth Report (1865), 58, p. xii. 1. 

The Working Day. 285 

when 10, lias made two days and two nights running." A 
third, "now 10 ... worked from 6 a.m. till 12 p.m. three 
nights, and till 9 p.m. the other nights." "Another, now 13, 
. . . worked from 6 p.m. till 12 noon next day, for a week 
together, and sometimes for three shifts together, e.g., from 
Monday morning till Tuesday night." "Another, now 12, has 
worked in an iron foundry at Stavely from 6 a.m. till 12 p.m. 
for a fortnight on end; could not do it any more." "George 
Allinsworth, age 9 ? came here as cellar-boy last Friday ; next 
morning we had to begin at 3, so I stopped here all night. 
Live five miles off. Slept on the floor of the furnace, over 
head, with an apron under me, and a bit of a jacket over me. 
The two other days I have been here at 6 a.m. Aye ! it is hot 
in here. Before I came here I was nearly a year at the same 
work at some works in the country. Began there, too, at 3 on 
Saturday morning always did, but was very gain [near] 
home, and could sleep at home. Other days I began at 6 in the 
morning, and gi en over at 6 or 7 in the evening," &C. 1 

*1. c,, p. xiiL The degree of culture of these "labour-powers" must naturally b 
such as appears in the following dialogues with one of the commissioners: Jere 
miah Haynes, age 12 "Four times four is 8; 4 fours are 16. A king is him that 
I is all ; . i money and .-. >ld. We have a King (told it is a Queen), they call her 
tb^ Princess Alexandria. Told that she married the Queen s son. The Queen s 
son -i the T -incess Alexandria. A Princess is a man." William Turner, age 12 
"Don t live in England. Think it is a country, but didn t know before." John 
Morris, ago 14 "Have heard say that God made the world, and that all the people 
was drowndcd but one; heard say that one was a little bird." William Smith, age 
15 f God L*ade man, man made woman." Edward Taylor, age 15 "Do not know 
of London." Henry Matthewman, age 17 "Had been to chapel, but missed a good 
many times lately. One name that they preached about was Jesus Christ, but I 
cannot say any ~* , and I cannot tell anything about him. He was not killed, 
but died likj other people. He was not the same as other people in some ways, 
because he was religious in some ways, and others isn t." (1. c. p. xv.) "The 
devil is a good person. I don t know where he lives." "Christ was a wicked 
man." "This girl spelt God as dog, and did not know the name of the queen." 
("Ch. Employment Comm. V. Report, 1866," p. 55, n. 278.) The same system 
obtains in the glass and paper works as in the metallurgical, already cited. In the 
paper factories, where the paper is made by machinery, night-work is the rule for 
all processes, except rag-sorting. In some cases night-work, by relays, is carried 
on incessantly through the whole week, usually from Sunday night until midnight 
of the following Saturday. Those who are on day-work work 5 days of 12, and 1 
day of 18 hours; those on night-work 5 nights of 12, and 1 of 6 hours in each 
week. In other cases each set works 24 hours consecutively on alternate days, one 
set working 6 hours on Monday, and 18 on Saturday to make up the 24 hours. In 
other cases an intermediate system prevails, by which all employed on the paper- 
making machinery work 15 or 16 hours every day in the week. This system, says 
Commissioner tord, "seems to combine all the evils of both the 12 hours* and the 24 

Capitalist Production. 

Let us now hear how capital itself regards this 24 hours 
system. The extreme forms of the system, its abuse in the 
"cruel and incredible" extension of the working day are natur 
ally passed over in silence. Capital only speaks of the system 
in its "normal" form. 

Messrs. Naylor & Vickers, steel manufacturers, who employ 
between 600 and 700 persons, among whom only 10 per cent, 
are under 18, and of those, only 20 boys under 18 work in 
night sets thus express themselves: "The boys do not suffer 
from the heat. The temperature is probably from 86 to 90. 
. . . . At the forges and in the rolling-mills the hands 
work night and day, in relays, but all the other parts of the 
work are day work, i.e., from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the forge 
the hours are from 12 to 12. Some of the hands always work 
in the night, without any alternation of day and night work. 

We do not find any difference in the health of those 

who work regularly by night and those who work by day, and 
probably people can sleep better if they have the same period 

of rest than if it is changed About 20 of the boys 

under the age of 18 work in the night sets We 

could not well do without lads under 18 working by night 
The objection would be in the increase in the cost of produc 
tion Skilled hands and the heads in every department 

are difficult to get, but of the lads we could get any number. 

But from the small proportion of boys that we employ 

the subject (i.e., of restrictions on night work) is of little im 
portance or interest to us." 1 

Mr. J. Ellis, one of the firm of Messrs. John Brown & Co., 
steel and iron works, employing about 3000 men and boys, part 

hours relays." Children under 18, young persons under 18, and women, work 
under this night system. Sometimes under the 12 hours system they are obliged, on 
account of the non-appearance of those that ought to relieve them, to work a double 
turn of 24 hours. The evidence proves that boys and* girls very often work over 
time, which, not un frequently, extends to 24 or even 86 hours of uninterrupted 
toil. In the continuous and unvarying process of glazing are found girls of 12 
who work the whole month 14 hours a day, "without any regular relief or cessation 
beyond 2 or, at most, 3 breaks of half-an-hour each for meals." In some mills, 
where regular night-work has been entirely given up, over-work goes on to a terri 
ble extent, "and that often in the dirtiest, and in the hottest, and in the most 
monotonous of the various processes. ** ("Ch. Employment Comm. Report IV., 
1?65," p. xxxviii. and xxxix.) * Fourth Report, &c., 1865, 79. p. xvi. 

The Working Day. 287 

of whose operations, namely, iron and heavier steel work, goes 
on night and day by relays states "that in the heavier steel 
work one or two boys are employed to a score or two men." 
Their concern employs upwards of 500 boys under 18 of whom 
about J or 170 are under the age of 13. With reference to the 
proposed alteration of the law, Mr. Ellis says : "I do not think 
it would be very objectionable to require that no person under 
the age of 18 should work more than 12 hours in the 24. But 
we do not think that any line could be drawn over the age of 
12, at which boys could be dispensed with for night work. But 
we would sooner be prevented from employing boys under the 
age of 13, or even so high as 14, at all, than not be allowed to 
employ boys that we do have at night. Those boys who 
work in the day sets must take their turn in the night sets also, 
because the men could not work in the night sets only ; it 

would ruin their health We think, however, that 

night work in alternate weeks is no harm. (Messrs. Naylor & 
Vickers, on the other hand, in conformity with the interest of 
their business, considered that periodically changed night- 
labour might possibly do more harm than continual night- 
labour.) We find the men who do it, as well as the others who 

do other work only by day Our objections to not 

allowing boys under 18 to work at night, would be on account 
of the increase of expense, but this is the only reason. (What 
cynical naivete!) We think that the increase would be more 
than the trade, with due regard to its being successfully carried 
out, could fairly bear. (What mealy-mouthed phraseology!) 
Labour is scarce here, and might fall short if there were such 
a regulation." (i.e., Ellis Brown & Co. might fall into the fatal 
perplexity of being obliged to pay labour-power its full value.) 1 
The "Cyclops Steel and Iron Works," of Messrs. Cammel & 
Co., are conducted on the same large scale as those of the above 
mentioned John Brown & Co. The managing director had 
handed in his evidence to the Government Commissioner, Mr. 
White, in writing. Later he found it convenient to suppress 
the MS. when it had been returned to him for revision. Mr= 
White, however, has a good memory. He remembered quite 

M. c. 80, p. xvi. 

288 Capitalist Production. 

clearly that for the Messrs. Cyclops the forbidding of the 
night-labour of children and young persons "would be im 
possible, it would be tantamount to stopping their works," and 
yet their business employs little more than 6% of boys under 
18, and less than \% under 13. 1 

On the same subject Mr. E. F. Sanderson, of the firm of 
Sanderson, Bros., & Co., steel rolling-mills and forges, Atter- 
cliffe, says: "Great difficulty would be caused by preventing 
boys under 18 from working at night. The chief would be the 
increase of cost from employing men instead of boys. I can 
not say what this would be, but probably it would not be 
enough to enable the manufacturers to raise the pri.ce of steel, 
and consequently it would fall on them, as of course the men 
(what queer-headed folk !) would refuse to pay it." Mr. San 
derson does not know how much he pays the children, but 
"perhaps the younger boys get from 4s. to 5s. a week. . . . 
The boys work is of a kind for which the strength of the boys 
is generally ( generally/ of course not always) quite sufficient, 
and consequently there Would be no gain in the greater strength 
of the men to counterbalance the loss, or it would be only in 
the few cases in which the metal is heavy. The men would 
not like so well not to have boys under them, as men would be 
less obedient. Besides, boys must begin young to learn the 
trade. Leaving day work alone open to boys would not answer 
this purpose." And why not? Why could not boys learn 
their handicraft in the day-time ? Your reason ? "Owing to 
the men working days and nights in alternate weeks, the men 
would be separated half the time from their boys, and would 
lose half the profit which they make from them. The training 
which they give to an apprentice is considered as part of the 
return for the boys labour, and thus enables the men to get it 
at a cheaper rate. Each man would want half of this profit." 
In other words, Messrs. Sanderson would have to pay part of 
the wages of the adult men out of their own pockets instead of 
by the night work of the boys. Messrs. Sanderson s profit 
would thus fall to some extent, and this is the good Sanderson- 

> 1. c. 82, p. xvii. 

The Working Day. 289 

ian reason why boys cannot learn their handicraft in the day. 1 
In addition to this, it would throw night labour on those who 
worked instead of the boys, which they would not be able to 
stand. The difficulties in fact would be so great that they 
would very likely lead to the giving up of night work al 
together, and "as far as the work itself is concerned/ says 
E. F. Sanderson, "this would suit as well, but " But Messrs. 
Sanderson have something else to make besides steel. Steel- 
making is simply a pretext for surplus-value making. The 
smelting furnaces, rolling-mills, &c., the buildings, machinery, 
iron, coal, &c. have something more to do than transform them 
selves into steel. They are there to absorb surplus-labour, and 
naturally absorb more in 2-i hours than in 12. In fact they 
give, by grace of God and law, the Sandersons a cheque on the 
working time of a certain number of hands for all the 24 hours 
of the day, and they lose their character as capital, are there 
fore a pure loss for the Sandersons, as soon as their function of 
absorbing labour is interrupted. "But then there would be 
the loss from so much expensive machinery, lying idle half the 
time, and to get through the amount of work which we are able 
to do on the present system, we should have to double our 
premises and plant, which would double the outlay." But why 
should these Sandersons pretend to a privilege not enjoyed by 
the other capitalists who only work during the day, and whose 
buildings, machinery, raw material, therefore lie "idle" during 
the night? E. F. Sanderson answers in the name of all the 
Sandersons : "It is true that there is this loss from machinery 
lying idle in those manufactories in which work only goes on 
by day. But the use of furnaces would involve a further loss 
in our case. If they were kept up there would be a waste of 
fuel (instead of, as now, a waste of the living substance of the 
workers), and if they were not, there would be loss of time in 
laying the fires and getting the heat up (whilst the loss of 
sleeping time, even to children of 8, is a gain of working 
time for the Sanderson tribe), and the furnaces themselves 

1 In our reflecting and reasoning age a man is not worth much who cannot give a 
good reason for everything, no matter how bad or how crazy. Everything in the 
world that has been done wrong ha* been done wrong for the very befit of reason*. 
(Hegel, 1. c., p. 249.) 


290 Capitalist Production. 

would suffer from the changes of temperature." (Whilst those 
same furnaces suffer nothing from the day and night changes of 
labour.) 1 



"What is a working day? What is the length of time 
during which capital may consume the labour-power whose 
daily value it buys ? How far may the working day be ex 
tended beyond the working time necessary for the reproduction 
of labour-power itself?" It iia* been seen that to these ques 
tions capital replies: the working day contains the full 24 
hours, with the deduction of the few hours of repose without 
which labour-power absolutely refuses its services again. 

J 1. c. 85, p. xvii. To similar tender scruples of the glass manufacturers that 
regular meal times for the children are impossible because as a consequence a cer 
tain quantity of heat, radiited by the furnaces>, wot i be "a pure loss" or "wasted." 
Commissioner White makes answer. His answer is unlike that oT Ur , Senior, &>:., 
and their puny German plagiarists a la Roscher who are touched b; th "rMtinence," 
"self-denial," "saving," of the capitalists in the expenditure of their gold, and by 
their Timur-Tamerlanish prodigality of human life! "A certain amount of heat 
beyond what is usual at present might also be going to waste, if meal times were 
secured in these cases, but it seems likely not equal in money-value to the waste 
of animal power now going on in glass-hour js throughout the kingdom from growing 
boys not having enough quiet time to e; t their meals at ease, with a little rest 
afterwards for digestion." (! c., p. xlv.) And this in the year of progress 1863! 
Without considering the expenditure of strength in lifting and carrying, such a 
child, in the sheds where bottle and flint glass are made, walks during the perform 
ance of his work 15-20 miles in every 6 hours! And the work often lasts 14 or 15 
hours! In many of these glass works, as in the Moscow spinning mills, the system 
of 6 hours relays is in force. "During the working part of the week six hours 
is the utmost unbroken period ever attained at any one time for rest, and out >f 
this has to come the time spent in coming and going to and from work, washing, 
dressing, and meals, leaving a very short period indeed for rest, and none for freih 
air and play, unless at the expense of the sleep necessary for young boys, especially 
at such hot and fatiguing work. . . . Even the short sleep is obviously liable 
to be broken by a boy having to wake himself if it is night, or by the noise, if 
it is day." Mr. White gives cases where a boy worked f "! consecutive hours; 
others where boys of 12 drudged on until 2 in the morning, and then slept in tie 
works till 5 a,m. (3 hours!) only to resume their work. "The amount of work," 
say Tremenheere and Tufnell, who drafted the general report, "done by bo}S, 
youths, girls, and women, in the course of their daily or nightly spell of labour, is. 
certainly extraordinary." (1. c., xliii. and xliv.) Meanwhile, late by night per 
haps, self-denying Mr. Glass-Capital, primed with port-wine, reds out of his dub 
ard droning out idiotically, "Britons never, never shall be slaves!" 

The Working Day. 291 

Hence it is self-evident that the labourer is nothing else, his 
whole life through, than labour-power, that therefore all his 
disposable time is by nature and law labour-time, to be devoted 
to the self-expansion of capital. Time for education, for 
intellectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions 
and for social intercourse, for the free-play of his bodily and 
mental activity, even the rest time of Sunday (and that in a 
country of Sabbatarians I) 1 moonshine ! But in its blind un- 
restrainable passion, its were-wolf hunger for surplus-labour, 
capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely 
physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the 
time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of 
the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of 
fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal-time, incorpor 
ating it where possible with the process of production itself, so 
that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of pro 
duction, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the 
machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the resto 
ration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so 
many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely 
exhausted, renders essential. It is not the normal maintenance 
of the labour-power which is to determine the limits of the 
working day ; it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of 
labour-power, no matter how diseased, compulsory, and painful 
it may be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers 
period of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life 
of labour-power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the 
maximum of labour-power, that can be rendered fluent in a 

* In England even now occasionally in rural districts a labourer is condemned to 
Imprisonment for desecrating the Sabbath, by working in his front garden. The 
same labourer is punished for breach of contract if he remains away from his 
metal, paper, or glass works on the Sunday, even if it be from a religious whim. 
The orthodox Parliament will hear nothing of Sabbath-breaking if it occurs in the 
process of expanding capital. A memorial (August 1863), in which the London 
day-labourers in fish and poultry shops asked for the abolition of Sunday labour, 
states that their work lasts for the first 6 days of the week on an average 15 hours 
a-day, and on Sunday 810 hours. From this same memorial we learn also that 
the delicate gourmands among the aristocratic hypocrites of Exeter Hall, especially 
encourage this "Sunday labour." These "holy ones," so zealous in cute curanda, 
show their Christianity by the humility with which they bear the over-work, th 
privations, and the hanger of others. Obstquium ventrts ittis (.the labourers) per* 
tuciosms esi. 

292 Capitalist Production. 

working day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of 
the labourer s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased pro 
duce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility. 

The capitalistic mode of production (essentially the produc 
tion of surplus value, the absorption of surplus-labour), pro 
duces thus, with the extension of the working day, not only 
the deterioration of human labour-power by robbing it of ita 
normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and 
function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and 
death of this labour-power itself. 1 It extends the labourer s 
time of production during a given period by shortening hi;? 
actual life-time. 

But the value of the labour-power includes the value of tho 
commodities necessary for the reproduction of the worker, o:- 
for the keeping up of the working class. If then the unnatural 
extension of the working day, that capital necessarily strive* 
after in its unmeasured passion for self-expansion, shorten;] 
the length of life of the individual labourer, and therefor tho 
duration of his labour-power, the forces used up have to be re 
placed at a more rapid rate and the sum of the expenses fo 
the reproduction of labour-power will be greater; just as in u 
machine the part of its value to be reproduced every day i; 
greater the more rapidly the machine is worn out. It would 
seem therefore that the interest of capital itself points in tho 
direction of a normal working day. 

The slave-owner buys his labourer as he buys his horse. If 
he loses his slave, he loses capital that can only be restored 
by new outlay in the slave-mart. But "the rice-grounds o:f 
Georgia, or the swamps of the Mississippi may be fatally in 
jurious to the human constitution; but the waste of human 
life which the cultivation of these districts necessitates, is noi 
so great that it cannot be repaired from the teeming preserver 
of Virginia and Kentucky. Considerations of economy, more 
over, which, under a natural system, afford some security for 
humane treatment by identifying the master s interest with 

*"We have given in our previous report* the statement* of several experience! 
manufacturers to the effect that over-hours. . . . certainly tend prematurely tit 
exhaust the working power of the men.* (L c. 64, p. riii.) 

The Working Day. 293 

the slave s preservation, when once trading in slaves is prac 
tised, become reasons for racking to the uttermost the toil of 
the slave ; for, when his place can at once be supplied from for 
eign preserves, the duration of his life becomes a matter of less 
moment than its productiveness while it lasts. It is accord 
ingly a maxim of slave management, in slave-importing coun 
tries, that the most effective economy is that which takes out 
of the human chattel in the shortest space of time the utmost 
amount of exertion it is capable of putting forth. It is in 
tropical culture, where annual profits often equal the whole 
capital of plantations, that negro life is most recklessly sac 
rificed. It is the agriculture of the West Indies, which has 
been for centuries prolific of fabulous wealth, that has engulfed 
millions of the African race. It is in Cuba, at this day, whose 
revenues are reckoned by millions, and whose planters are 
princes, that we see in the servile class, the coarsest fare, the 
most exhausting and unremitting toil, and even the absolute 
destruction of a portion of its numbers every year." 1 

Mutaio nomine de te fabula narratur. For slave-trade 
read labour-market, for Kentucky and Virginia, Ireland and 
the agricultural districts of England, Scotland, and Wales, 
for Africa, Germany. We heard how over-work thinned the 
ranks of the bakers in London. Nevertheless the London 
labour-market is always over-stocked with German and other 
candidates for death in the bakeries. Pottery, as we saw, is 
one of the shortest-lived industries. Is there any want there 
fore of potters ? Josiah Wedgwood, the inventor of modern 
pottery, himself originally a common workman, said in 1785 
before the House of Commons that the whole trade employed 
from 15,000 to 20,000 people. 2 In the year 1861 the popula 
tion alone of the town centres of this industry in Great Britain 
numbered 101,302. "The cotton trade has existed for ninety 
years ..... It has existed for three generations of the English 
race, and I believe I may safely say that during that period it 
has destroyed nine generations of factory operatives." 3 

"The Slave Power," p. 110, 111. 

John Ward: "History of the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent," London, 1843, 
. 42. 
Ferrand s Speech in the Houe of Commons, 27th April, 1863. 

294 Capitalist Production. 

No doubt in certain epochs of feverish activity the labour- 
market shows significant gaps. In 1834, e.g. But then the 
manufacturers proposed to the Poor Law Commissioners that 
they should send the "surplus-population" of the agricultural 
districts to the north, with the explanation "that the manu 
facturers would absorb and use it up." 1 "Agents were ap 
pointed with the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners. . . . 
An office was set up in Manchester, to which lists were sent of 
those workpeople in the agricultural districts wanting employ 
ment, and their names were registered in books. The manu 
facturers attended at these offices, and selected such persons as 
they chose; when they had selected such person s as their 
wants required, they gave instructions to have them for 
warded to Manchester, and they were sent, ticketed like bales 
of goods, by canals, or with carriers, others tramping on the 
road, and many of them were found on the way lost and half- 
starved. This system had grown up into a regular trade. 
This House will hardly believe it, but I tell them, that this 
traffic in human flesh was as w y ell kept up, they were in effecl 
as regularly sold to these [Manchester] manufacturers as slave* 

are sold to the cotton-grower in the United States Ir. 

18fiO, the cotton trade was at its zenith. .... The manu 
facturers again found that they were short of hands. . . . The} 
applied to the flesh agents/ as they are called. Those agents 
sent to the southern downs of England, to the pastures of Dor 
setshire, to the glades of Devonshire, to the people tending 
kine in Wiltshire, but they sought in vain. The surplus- 
population was absorbed. The "Bury Guardian," said, on 
the completion of the French treaty, that <; 10,000 additional 
hands could be absorbed by Lancashire, and that 30,000 or 
40,000 will be needed." After the "flesh agents and sub- 
agents" had in vain sought through the agricultural districts, 
"a deputation came up to London, and waited on the right hor . 
gentleman [Mr. Villiers, President of the Poor Law Board] 
with a view of obtaining poor children from certain unioa 
houses for the mills of Lancashire." 2 

* "Those were the very words used by the cotton manufacturers," 1. c. 

* L c. Mr. Villiers, despite the best of intentions on hig part, was "legall) " 

The Working Day. 295 

What experience shows to the capitalist generally is a con 
stant excess of population, i.e., an excess in relation to the 
momentary requirements of surplus-labour-absorbing capital, 
although this excess is made up of generations of human beings 
stunted, shortrlived, swiftly replacing each other, plucked, so 
to say, before maturity. 1 And, indeed, experience shows to 

obliged to refuse the requests of the manufacturers. These gentlemen, however, 
attained their end through the obliging nature of local poor law boards. Mr. A. 
Redgrave, Inspector of Factories, asserts that this time the system under which 
orphans and pauper children were treated "legally" as apprentices "was not accom 
panied with the old abuses" (on these "abuses" see Engels, 1. c.), although in one 
case there certainly was "abuse of this system in respect to a number of girls and 
young women brought from the agricultural districts of Scotland into Lancashire 
end Cheshire." Under this system the manufacturer entered into a contract with 
the workhouse authorities for a certain period. He fed, clothed, and lodged the 
children, and gave them a small allowance of money. A remark of Mr. Redgrave 
to be quoted directly seems strange, especially if we consider that even among the 
ye:.. s of prosperity of the English cotton trade, the year 1860 stands unparalleled, 
&u I that, besides, wages were exceptionally high. For this extraordinary demand 
for work had to contend with the depopulation of Ireland, with unexampled emigra 
tion from the English and Scotch agricultural districts to Australia and America, 
with an actual diminution of the population in some of the English agricultural 
districts, in consequence partly of an actual breakdown of the vital force of the 
labourers, partly of the already effected dispersion of the disposable population 
through the dealers in human flesh. Despite all this Mr. Redgrave says: "This 
kir 1 of labour, however, would only be sought after when none other could be 
procured, for it is a high-priced labour. The ordinary wages of a boy of 13 would 
"-- a"i . 4s. per week, but to lodge, to clothe, to feed, and to provide medical 
attendance and proper superintendence for 50 or 100 of these boys, and to set 
--Uc some remuneration for them, could not be accomplished for 4s. a-head per 
wc: ... T (Report of the Inspector of Factories for 80th April, 1860, p. 27.) Mr. 
Redgrave forgets to tell us how the labourer himself can do all this for his chil 
dren out of their 4s. a-week wages, when the manufacturer cannot do it for the 
60 <. r 100 children lodged, boarded, superintended all together. To guard against 
fal:; conclusions from the text, I ought here to remark that the English cotton 
industry, since it was placed under the Factory Act of 1850 with its regulations of 
labour-time, &c., must be regarded as the model industry of England. The English 
cotton operative is in every respect better off than his continental companion in 
misery. "The Prussian factory operative labours at least ten hours per week more 
then his English competitor, and if employed at his own loom in his own house, 
his labour is not restricted to even those additional hours." ("Rep. of Insp. of 
Fact.," Oct. 1853, p. 103.) Redgrave, the Factory Inspector mentioned above, after 
the Industrial Exhibition in 1851, travelled on the Continent, especially in France 
and Germany, for the purpose of inquiring into the conditions of the factories. 
Of the Prussian operative he says: "He receives a remuneration sufficient to pro 
cure tl.i simple fare, and to supply the slender comforts to which he has been 
accustomed. ... he lives upon his coarse fare, and works hard, wherein bis 
position is subordinate to that of the English operative." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 
81st Oct., 1853, p. 85.) 

*The overworked "die off with strange rapidity; but the places of those who 
perish are instantly filled, and a frequent change of persons makes no alteration 
in the scene." ("England and America." London, 1833, vol. I, p. 65. By E, G. 

296 Capitalist Production. 

the intelligent observer with what swiftness and grip the 
capitalist mode of production, dating, historically speaking, 
only from yesterday, has seized the vital power of the people 
by the very root show how the degeneration of the industrial 
population is only retarded by the constant absorption of prim 
itive and physically uncorrupted elements from the country 
shows how even the country labourers, in spite of fresh air 
and the principle of natural selection, that works so power 
fully amongst them, and only permits the survival of the 
strongest, are already beginning to die off. 1 Capital that has 
such good reasons for denying the sufferings of the legions of 
workers that surround it, is in practice moved as much and as 
little by the sight of the coming degradation and final de 
population of the human race, as by the probable fall of the 
earth into the sun. In every stock-jobbing swindle every one 
knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every 
one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after 
he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in 
safety. Apres moi le deluge! is the watchword of every ca]>- 
italist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reck- 
less of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under 
cotflpUlsion from society.* To the outcry as to the physical 
ancl mental degradation, the premature death, the torture of 
overwork, it answers: Ought these to trouble us since they ir- 

1 See "Public Health. Sixth Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Counci , 
1863." Published in London 1864. This report deals especially with the agricultun 1 
labourers. "Sutherland ... is commonly represented as a highly improve! 
county . . . but . . . recent inquiry has discovered that even there, ii 
districts once famous for fine men and gallant soldiers, the inhabitants have de 
generated into a meagre and stunted race. In the healthiest situations, on hill 
sides fronting the sea, the faces of their famished children are as pale as the/ 
could be in the foul atmosphere of a London alley." (W. T. Thornton. "Over 
population and its remedy." 1. c., pT 74, 75.) They resemble in fact the SO.OOC 
"gallant Highlanders" whom Glasgow pigs together in its wynds and closes, witl 
prostitutes and thieves. 

1 "But though the health of a population is so important a fact of the national 
capital, we are afraid it must be said that the class of employers of labour have not 
been the most forward to guard and cherish this treasure. . . . The consider 
ation of the health of the operatives was forced upon the millowners. ("Times," 
November 5th, 1861.) "The men of the West Riding became the clothiers of 
mankind . . . the health of the workpeople was sacrificed, and the race in a 
few generations must have degenerated. But a reaction set in. Lord Shaftes- 
bury s Bill limited the hours of children s labour," &c. ("Report of the Registrar- 
General," for October, 1861.) 

The Working Day. 297 

crease our profits ? But looking at things as a whole, all this 
does not, indeed, depend on the good or ill will of the in-^s 
dividual capitalist. Free competition brings out the inherent/ 
laws of capitalist production, in the shape of external coercive^ ^ I 
laws having power over every individual capitalist. 1 / 

. The establishment of a normal working day is the result of 
centuries ot struggle between capitalist and labourer. The 
Tnstory of this struggle shows two opposed tendencies. Cora- 
pare, e.g., the English factory legislation of our time with the 
English Labour Statutes from the 14th century to well into 
the middle of the 18th. 2 Whilst the modern Factory Acts 
compulsorily shortened the working-day, the earlier statutes 
tried to lengthen it by compulsion. Of course the pretensions 
of capital in embryo when, beginning to grow, it secures the 
right of absorbing a quantum sufficit of surplus-labour, not 
merely by the force of economic relations, but by the help of 
the State appear very modest when put face to face with the 
concessions that, growling and struggling, it has to make in its 
adult condition. It takes centuries ere the "free" labourer, 
thanks to the development of capitalistic production, agrees, 
i.e., is compelled by social conditions, to sell the whole of his 
active life, his very capacity for work, for the price of the 
necessaries of life, his birthright for a mess of pottage. Hence 
it is natural that the lengthening of the working day, which 

*We, therefore, find, e.g., that in the beginning of 1863, 26 firms owning ex 
tensive potteries in Staffordshire, amongst others, Josiah Wedgwood, & Sons peti 
tion in a memorial for "some legislative enactment." Competition with other 
capitalists permits them no voluntary limitation of working-time for children, &c. 
" Much as we deplore the evils before mentioned, it would not be possible to pre 
vent them by any scheme of agreement between the manufacturers. . . . Taking 
all these points into consideration, we have come to the conviction that some legis 
lative enactment is wanted." ("Children s Employment Comm." Rep. 1., 1863, p. 
822.) Most recently a much more striking example offers. The rise in the price 
of cotton during a period of feverish activity, had induced the manufacturers in 
Blackburn to shorten, by mutual consent, the working-time in their mills during a 
certain fixed period. This period terminated about the end of November, 1871. 
Meanwhile, the wealthier manufacturers, who combined spinning with weaving, used 
the diminution of production resulting from this agreement, to extend their own 
business and thus to make great profits at the expense of the small employers. The 
latter thereupon turned in their extremity to the operatives, urged them earnestly 
to agitate for the 9 hours system, and promised contributions in money to this end. 

1 The Labour Statutes, the like of which were enacted at the same time in France, 
the Netherlands, and elsewhere, were first formally repealed in England in 181S, 
long after the changes in methods of production had rendered them obsolete. 

Capitalist Production. 

capital from the middle of the 14th to the end of the 17th 
century, tries to impose by State-measures on adult labourers, 
approximately coincides with the shortening of the working 
day which, in the second half of the 19th century, has here and 
there been effected by the State to prevent the coining of 
children s blood into capital. That which to-day, e.g., in the 
State of Massachusetts, until recently the freest State of the 
North-American Republic, has been proclaimed as the statutory 
limit of the labour of children under 12, was in England, even 
in the middle of the 17th century, the normal working-day of 
able-bodied artizans, robust labourers, athletic blacksmiths. 1 

The first "Statute of Labourers" (23 Edward TIL, 1349) 
found its immediate pretext (not its cause, for legislation of 
this kind lasts centuries after the pretext for it has disap 
peared) in the great plague that decimated the people, so that, 
as a Tory writer says, "The difficulty of getting men to work 
on reasonable terms (i.e., at a price that left their employers 
a reasonable quantity of surplus-labour) grew to such a height 
as to be quite intolerable." 2 Reasonable wages were, there 
fore, fixed by law as well as the limits of the working day. 
The latter point, the only one that here interests us, is repeated 
in the Statute of 1496 (Henry VIII.). The working day for 
all artificers and field labourers from March to September 
ought, according to this statute (which, however, could not be 
enforced), to last from 5 in the morning to between 7 and 8 

1 "No child under 12 years of age shall be employed in any manufacturing estab 
lishment more than 10 hours in one day." General Statutes of Massachusetts, 63, 
ch. 12. (The various Statutes were passed between 1836 and 1858.) "Labour per 
formed during a period of 10 hours on any day in all cotton, woollen, silk, paper, 
glass, and flax factories, or in manufactories of iron and brass, shall be considered 
a legal day s labour. And be it enacted, that hereafter no minor engaged in any 
factory shall be holden or required to work more than 10 hours in any day, or 
60 hours in any week; and that hereafter no minor shall be admitted as a worker 
under the age of 10 years in any factory within this State." State of New Jersey. 
An Act to limit the hours of labour, &c., 61 and 62. (Law of llth March, 1855.) 
"No minor who has attained the age of 12 years, and is under the age of 15 
years, shall be employed in any manufacturing establishment more than 11 hours 
in any one day, nor before 5 o clock in the morning, nor after 7.30 in the evening." 
("Revised Statutes of the State of Rhode Island," &c., ch. 39, 23, 1st July, 1857.) 

2 "Sophisms of Free Trade." 7th Ed. London, 1850, p. 205. 9th Ed., p. 253. 
This same Tory, moreover, admits that "Acts of Parliament regulating wages, but 
against the labourer and in favour of the master, lasted for the long period of 
464 years. Population grew. These laws were then found, and really became, un 
necessary and burdensome." (1. c., p. 206.) 

The Working Day. 299 

in the evening. But the meal times consist of 1 hour for 
breakfast, 1J hours for dinner, and ^ an hour for "noon- 
meate," i.e., exactly twice as much as under the factory acts 
now in force. 1 In winter, work was to last from 5 in the 
morning until dark, with the same intervals. A statute of 
Elizabeth of 1562 leaves the length of the working day for all 
labourers "hired for daily or weekly wage 7 untouched, but 
aims at limiting the intervals to 2J hours in the summer, or 
to 2 in the winter. Dinner is only to last 1 hour, and the 
"afternoon-sleep of half an hour" is only allowed between the 
middle of May and the middle of August For every hour of 
absence Id. is to be subtracted from the wage. In practice, 
however, -the conditions were much more favourable to the 
labourers than in the statute-book. William Petty, the father 
of political economy, and to some extent the founder of Sta 
tistics, says in a work that he published in the last third of the 
17th century: "Labouring-men (then meaning field-labourers) 
work 10 hours per diem, and make 20 meals per week, viz., 3 
a day for working days, and 2 on Sundays ; whereby it is plain, 
that if they could fast on Fryday nights, and dine in one hour 
and a half, whereas they take two, from eleven to one ; thereby 
this working 2V more > and spending -$ less, the above-men 
tioned (tax) might be raised." 2 Was 1 not Dr. Andrew Ure 
right in crying down the 12 hours bill of 1833 as a retrogres 
sion to the times of the dark ages? It is true, these regula 
tions contained in the statute mentioned by Petty, apply also to 
apprentices. But the condition of child-labour, even at the 
end of the 17th century, is seen from the following complaint: 
" Tis not their practice (in Germany) as with us in this king- 

1 In reference to this statute, J. Wade with truth remarks: "From the statement 
above (*. e. t with regard to the statute) it appears that in 1496 the diet was con 
sidered equivalent to one third of the income of an artificer and one-half the income 
of a labourer, which indicates a greater degree of independence among the working 
classes than prevails at present; for the board, both of labourers and artificers, 
would now be reckoned at a much higher proportion of their wages." (J. Wade, 
"History of the Middle and Working Classes," p. 24, 26, and 577.) The opinion 
that this difference is due to the difference in the price-relations between food and 
clothing then and now is refuted by the most cursory glance at "Chronicon Pre- 
tiosum, &c." By Bishop Fleetwood. 1st Ed., London, 1707; 2d Ed, London, 1745. 

*W. Petty, "Political Anatomy of Ireland. Verbum Sapienti," 1762, Ed. 
p. 10. 

300 Capitalist Production. 

dom, to bind an apprentice for seven years; three or four is 
their common standard : and the reason is, because they are 
educated from their cradle to something of employment, which 
renders them the more apt to docile, and consequently the more 
capable of attaining to a ripeness and quicker proficiency in 
business. Whereas our youth, here in England, being bred to 
nothing before they come to be apprentices, make a very slow 
progress and require much longer time wherein to reach the 
perfection of accomplished artists." 1 

< Still, during the greater part of the 18th century, up to the 
epoch of Modern Industry and machinism, capital in England 
had not succeeded in seizing for itself, by the payment of the 
weekly value of labour-power, the whole week of the labourer 
with the exception, however, of the agricultural labourers. 
The fact that they could live for a whole week on the wage of 
four days, did not appear to the labourers a sufficient reason 
that they should work the other two days for the capitalist. 
One party of English economists, in the interest of capital, de 
nounces this obstinacy in the most violent manner, another 

1 "A Discourse on the necessity of encouraging Mechanick Industry," London, 
1689, p. 13. Macaulay, who has falsified English history in the interest of the 
Whigs and the bourgeoisie, declares as follows: "The practice of setting children 
prematurely to work . . . prevailed in the 17th century to an extent which, 
when compared with the extent of the manufacturing system, seems almost incred 
ible. At Norwich, the chief seat of the clothing trade, a little creature of six years 
old was thought fit for labour. Several writers of that time, and among them some 
who were considered as eminently benevolent, mention with exultation the fact 
that in that single city, boys and girls of very tender age create wealth exceeding 
what was necessary for their own subsistence by twelve thousand pounds a year. 
The more carefully we examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we 
find to dissent from those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new 
social evils. . . . That which is new is the intelligence and the humanity which 
remedies them." ("History of England," vol. I., p. 419.) Macaulay might have 
reported further that "extremely well-disposed" amir du commerce in the 17th 
century, narrate with "exultation" how in a poorhouse in Holland a child of four 
was employed, and that this example of "vertu mise en pratique" passes muster in 
all the humanitarian works, d la Macaulay, to the time of Adam Smith. It is 
true that with the substitution of manufacture for handicrafts, traces of the exploi 
tation of children begin to appear. This exploitation existed always to a certain 
extent among peasants, and was the more developed, the heavier the yoke pressing 
on the husbandman. The tendency of capital is there unmistakably; but the facts 
themselves are still as isolated as the phenomena of two-headed children. Hence 
they were noted "with exultation" as especially worthy of remark and as wonders 
by the far-seeing "amir du commerce," and recommended as models for their own 
time and for posterity. This same Scotch sycophant and fine talker, Macaulay, 
says: "We hear to-day only of retrogression and see only progress." What eyes, 
ftad especially what cars! 

The Working Day. 301 

party defends the labourers. Let us listen, e.g., to the contest 
between Postlethwayt whose Dictionary of Trade then had the 
same reputation as the kindred works of M Culloch and 
M Gregor to-day, and the author (already quoted) of the 
"Essay on Trade and Commerce." 1 

Postlethwayt says among other things : "We cannot put an 
end to those few observations, without noticing that trite re 
mark in the mouth of too many ; that if the industrious poor 
can obtain enough to maintain themselves in five days, they 
will not work the whole six. Whence they infer the necessity 
of even the necessaries of life being made dear by taxes, or any 
other means, to compel the working artizan and manufacturer 
to labour the whole six days in the week, without ceasing. I 
must beg leave to differ in sentiment from those great 
politicians, who contend for the perpetual slavery of the work 
ing people of this kingdom ; they forget the vulgar adage, all 
work and no play. Have not the English boasted of the in 
genuity and dexterity of her working artists and manufacturers 
which have heretofore given credit and reputation to British 
wares in general ? What has this been owing to ? To nothing 
more probably than the relaxation of the working people in 
their own way. Were they obliged to toil the year round, the 
whole six days in the week, in a repetition of the same work, 
might it not blunt their ingenuity, and render them stupid in 
stead of alert and dexterous ; and might not our workmen lose 
their reputation instead of maintaining it by such eternal 
slavery ? . . . . And what sort of workmanship could we ex 
pect from such hard-driven animals ? . . . . Many of them 
will execute as much work in four days as a Frenchman will in 

1 Among the accusers of the workpeople, the most angry is the anonymous author 
quoted in the text of "An Essay on trade and commerce, containing observations on 
Taxation, &c., London, 1770." He had already dealt with this subject in his earlier 
work: "Considerations on Taxes." London, 1765. On the same side follows 
Polonius Arthur Young, the unutterable statistical prattler. Among the defenders 
of the working classes the foremost are: Jacob Vanderlint, in: "Money answers 
all things." London, 1734; the Rev. Nathaniel Forster, D.D.; in "An Enquiry into 
the Causes of the Present Price of Provisions," London, 1766; Dr. Price, and 
especially Postlethwayt, as well in the supplement to his "Universal Dictionary of 
Trade and Commerce,", as in his "Great Britain s Commercial Interest explained and 
improved." 2nd Edition, 1755. The facts themselves are confirmed by many other 
writers of the time, among others by Josiah Tucker. 

302 Capitalist Production. 

five or six. But if Englishmen are to be eternal drudges, tis 
to be feared they will degenerate below the Frenchmen. As 
our people are famed for bravery in war, do we not say that it 
is owing to good English roast beef and pudding in their 
bellies, as well as their constitutional spirit of liberty ? And 
why may not the superior ingenuity and dexterity of our 
artists and manufactures, be owing to that freedom and liberty 
to direct themselves in their own way, and I hope we shall 
never have them deprived of such privileges and that good 
living from whence their ingenuity no less than their courage 
may proceed." 1 Thereupon the author of the "Essay on Trade 
and Commerce" replies: "If the making of every seventh 
day an holiday is supposed to be of divine institution, as it 
implies the appropriating the other six days to labour" (he 
means capital as we shall soon see) "surely it will not be 

thought cruel to enforce it That mankind ia 

general, are naturally inclined to ease and indolence, we fatally 
experience to be true, from the conduct of our manufacturing 
populace, who do not labour, upon an average, above four davs 

in a week, unless provisions happen to be very dear 

Put all the necessaries of the poor under one denomination ; 
for instance, call them all wheat, or suppose that .... the 
bushel of wheat shall cost five shillings and that he (a manu 
facturer) earns a shilling by his labour, he then would ba 
obliged to work five days only in a week. If the bushel of 
wheat should cost but four shillings, he would be obliged t) 
work but four days; but as wages in this kingdom are muei 
higher in proportion to the price of necessaries. ... the 
manufacturer, who labours four days, has a surplus of money 
to live idle with the rest of the week .... I hope [ 
have said enough to make it appear that the moderate labour 
of six days in a week is no slavery. Our labouring people do 
this, and to all appearance are the happiest of all our laboui- 
ing poor, 2 but the Dutch do this in manufactures, and appear 
to be a very happy people. The French do so, when holidays 

1 Postlethwayt, 1. c., "First Preliminary Discourse," p. 14. 

* "An Essay," &c. He himself relates on p. 96 wherein the "happiness" of tie 
English agricultural labour already in 1770 consisted. "Their powers are alwaj* 
upon the stretch, they cannot live cheaper than they do, nor work harder." 

The Working Day. 303 

do not intervene. 1 But our populace have adopted a notion, 
that as Englishmen they enjoy a birthright privilege of being 
more free and independent than in any country in Europe. 
Now this idea, as far as it may affect the bravery of our troops, 
may be of some use ; but the less the manufacturing poor have 
of it, certainly the better for themselves and for the State. 
The labouring people should never think themselves independ 
ent of their superiors It is extremely dangerous to 

encourage mobs in a commercial state like ours, where, per 
haps, seven parts out of eight of the whole, are people with 
little or no property. The cure will not be perfect, till our 
manufacturing poor are contented to labour six days for the 
same sum which they now earn in four days." 2 To this end, 
and for "extirpating idleness, debauchery and excess," promot 
ing a spirit of industry, "lowering the price of labour in our 
manufactories, and easing the lands of the heavy burden of 
poor s rates," our "faithful Eckart" of capital proposes this 
approved device : to shut up such labourers as become depend 
ent on public support, in a word, paupers, in "an ideal work 
house" Such ideal workhouse must be made a "House of 
Terror," and not an asylum for the poor, "where they are to 
be plentifully fed, warmly and decently clothed, and where 
they do but little work." 3 In this "House of Terror," this 
"ideal workhouse, the poor shall work 14 hours in a day, 
allowing proper time for meals, in such manner that there shall 
remain 12 hours of neat-labour." 4 

Twelve working hours daily in the Ideal Workhouse, in the 
"House of Terror" of 1770 ! 63 years later, in 1833, when the 
English Parliament reduced the working day for children of 
13 to 18, in four branches of industry to 12 full hours, the 
judgment day of English Industry had dawned! In 1852, 

1 Protestantism, by changing almost all the traditional holidays into workdays, 
plays an important part in the genesis of capital. 

"An Essay," &c., p. 16, 41, 96, 87, 55, 67, 69. Jacob Vanderlint, as early aa 
1734, declared that the secret of the out-cry of the capitalists as to the laziness of 
the working people was simply that they claimed for the same wages 6 days labour 
instead of 4. 

1. c. p. 242. 

4 1. c, "The French," he says, "laugh at our enthusiastic ideas of liberty." L c. 
p. 78. 

304 Capitalist Production. 

when Louis Bonaparte sought to secure his position with the 
bourgeoisie by tampering with the legal working day, the 
French people cried out with one voice "the law that limits 
the working day to 12 hours is the one good that has remained 
to us of the legislation of the Republic I" 1 . At Zurich the w r ork 
of children over 10, is limited to 12 hours; in Aargau in 1862, 
the work of children between 13 and 16, was reduced from 
12^ to 12 hours; in Austria in 1860, for children between 14 
and 16, the same reduction was made. 2 "What a progress," 
since 1770! Macaulay would shout with exultation! 

The "House of Terror" for paupers of which the capitalistic 
soul of 1770 only dreamed, was realized a few years later in 
the shape of a gigantic "Workhouse" for the industrial worker 
himself. It is called the Factory. And the ideal this time 
fades before the reality. 



After capital had taken centuries in extending the working- 
day to its normal maximum limit, and then beyond this to the 
limit of the natural day of 12 hours, 3 there followed on the 
birth of machinism and modern industry in the last third of 

1 "They especially objected to work beyond the 12 hours per day, because the law 
which fixed those hours, is the only good which remains to them of the legislation 
of the Republic." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1856, p. 80.) The 
French Twelve hours Bill of September 5th, 1850, a bourgeois edition of the decree 
of the Provisional Government of March 2nd, 1848, holds in all workshops without 
exceptions. Before this law the working day in France was without definite limit. 
It lasted in the factories 14, 15, or more hours. See "Des classes ouvrieres en 
France pendant 1 annee 1848. Par M. Blanqui." M. Blanqui the economist, not the 
Revolutionist, had been entrusted by the Government with an inquiry into the con 
dition of the working class. 

1 Belgium is the model bourgeois state in regard to the regulation of the working 
day. Lord Howard of Welden, English Plenipotentiary at Brussels, reports to the 
Foreign Office, May 12th, 1862 : "M. Rogier, the minister, informed me that 
children s labour is limited neither by a general law nor by any local regulations; 
that the Government, during the last three years, intended in every session to pro 
pose a bill on the subject, but always found an insuperable obstacle in the jealous 
opposition to any legislation in contradiction with the principle of perfect freedom of 

1 "It is certainly much to be regretted that any class of persons should toil 18 
hours a day, which, including the time for their meals and for going to and re 
turning from their work, amounts, in fact, to 14 of the 24 hours. . . . Without 

The Working Day. 305 

the 18th century, a violent encroachment like that of an 
avalanche in its intensity and extent. All bounds of morals 
and nature, age and sex, day and night, were broken down. 
Even the ideas of day and night, of rustic simplicity in the old 
statutes, became so confused that an English judge, as late as 
1860, needed a quite Talmudic sagacity to explain "judicially" 
what was day and what was night. 1 Capital celebrated its 

As soon as the working class, stunned at first by the noise 
and turmoil of the new system of production, recovered, in 
some measure, its senses, its resistance began, and first in the 
native land of machinism, in England. For 30 years, how 
ever, the concessions conquered by the workpeople were purely 
nominal. Parliament passed 5 Labour Laws between 1802 
and 1833, but was shrewd enough not to vote a penny for their 
carrying out, for the requisite officials, &c. 2 

They remained a dead letter. "The fact is, that prior to the 
Act of 1833, young persons and children were worked all night, 
all day, or both ad libitum/ 3 

A normal working day for modern industry only dates from 
the Factory Act of 1833, which included cotton, wool, flax, and 
silk factories. Nothing is more characteristic of the spirit of 

entering into the question of health, no one will hesitate, I think, to admit that, in a 
moral point of view, so entire an absorption of the time of the working classes, 
without intermission, from the early age of 13, and in trades not subject to restric 
tion, much younger, must be extremely prejudicial, and is an evil greatly to be de 
plored .... For the sake, therefore, of public morals, of bringing up an orderly 
population, and of giving the great body of the people a reasonable enjoyment of 
life, it is much to be desired that in all trades some portion of every working day 
should be reserved for rest and leisure." (Leonard Homer in Reports of Insp. of 
Fact, Dec., 1841.) 

1 See "Judgment of Mr. J. H. Otwey, Belfast. Hilary Sessions, County Antrim, 

* It is very characteristic of the regime of Louis Philippe, the bourgeois king, that 
the one Factory Act passed during his reign, that of March 22nd, 1841, was never 
put in force. And this law only dealt with child-labour. It fixed 8 hours a day for 
children between 8 and 12, 12 hours for children between 12 and 16, &c., with many 
exceptions which allow night-work even for children 8 years old. The supervision 
and enforcement of this law are, in a country where every mouse is under police 
administration, left to the good-will of the amis du commerce. Only since 1S53, 
in one single department the Departement du Nord has a paid government in 
spector been appointed. Not less characteristic of the development of French so 
ciety, generally, is the fact, that Louis Philippe s law stood solitary among the all* 
embracing mass of French laws, till the Revolution of 1848. 

"Report of Injp. of Fact.," 30th April, 1860, p. 50. 


306 Capitalist Production. 

capital than the history of the English Factory Acts from 1833 
to 1864. 

The Act of 1833 declares the ordinary factory working day 
to be from half-past five in the morning to half-past eight in 
the evening, and within these limits, a period of 15 hours, it is 
lawful to employ young persons (i.e., persons between 13 and 
18 years of age), at any time of the day, provided no one in 
dividual young person should work more than 12 hours in any 
one day, except in certain cases especially provided for. The 
6th section of the Act provided : "That there shall be allowed 
in the course of every day not less than one and a half hours for 
meals to every such person restricted as hereinbefore pro 
vided." The employment of children under 9, with excep 
tions mentioned later, was forbidden; the work of children 
between 9 and 13 was limited to 8 hours a day, night work, 
i.e., according to this Act, work between 8.30 p.m. and 5.30 
a.m., was forbidden for all persons between 9 and 18. 

The law-makers were so far from wishing to trench on the 
freedom of capital to exploit adult labour-power, or, as they 
called it, "the freedom of labour," that they created a special 
system in order to prevent the Factory Acts from having a 
consequence so outrageous. 

"The great evil of the factory system as at present con 
ducted," says the first report of the Central Board of the Corr- 
mission of June 28th, 1833, "has appeared to us to be that it 
entails the necessity of continuing the labour of children to 
the utmost length of that of the adults. The only remedy for 
this evil, short of the limitation of the labour of adults, which 
would, in our opinion, create an evil greater than that which is 
sought to be remedied, appears to be the plan of working 
double sets of children." . . . Under the name of System 
of Relays, this "plan" was therefore carried out, so that, e.g., 
from 5.30 a.m. until 1.30 in the afternoon, one set of children 
between 9 and 13, and from 1.30 p.m. to 8.30 in the evening 
another set were "put to," &c. 

In order to reward the manufacturers for having, in tho 
most barefaced way, ignored all the Acts as to children s labou * 
passed during the last twenty-two years, the bill was yet 

The Working Day. 307 

further gilded for them. Parliament decreed that after March 
1st, 1834, no child under 11, after March 1st, 1835, no child 
under 12, and after March 1st, 1836, no child under 13, was to 
work more than eight hours in a factory. This "liberalism/ 
so full consideration for "capital," was the more noteworthy 
as, Dr. Farre, Sir A. Carlisle, Sir B. Brodie, Sir C. Bell, Mr. 
Guthrie, &c., in a word, the most distinguished physicians and 
surgeons in London, had declared in their evidence before the 
House of Commons, that there was danger in delay. Dr. 
Farre expressed himself still more coarsely. "Legislation is 
necessary for the prevention of death, in any form in which it 
can be prematurely inflicted, and certainly this (i.e., the fac 
tory method) must be viewed as a most cruel mode of in 
flicting it." 

That same "reformed" Parliament, which in its delicate 
consideration for the manufacturers, condemned children 
under 13, for years to come, to 72 hours of work per week in 
the Factory Hell, on the other hand, in the Emancipation Act, 
which also administered freedom drop by drop, forbade the 
planters, from the outset, to work any negro slave more than 
45 hours a week. 

But in no wise conciliated capital now began a noisy agita 
tion that went on for several years. It turned chiefly on the 
age of those who, under the name of children, were limited to 
8 hours work, and were subject to a certain amount of com 
pulsory education. According to capitalistic anthropology, the 
age of childhood ended at 10, or at the outside, at 11. The 
more nearly the time approached for the coming into full force 
of the Factory Act, the fatal year 1836, the more wildly raged 
the mob of manufacturers. They managed, in fact, to in 
timidate the government to such an extent that in 1835 it pro 
posed to lower the limit of the age of childhood from 13 to 12. 
In the meantime the pressure from without grew more threat 
ening. Courage failed the House of Commons. It refused to 
throw children of 13 under the Juggernaut Car of capital for 
more than 8 hours a day, and the Act of 1833 came into full 
operation. It remained unaltered until June, 1844. 

In the ten years during which it regulated factory work, 

308 Capitalist Production. 

first in part, and then entirely, the official reports of the factory- 
inspectors teem with complaints as to the impossibility of 
putting the Act into force. As the law of 1833 left it optional 
with the lords of capital during the 15 hours, from 5.30 a.m. 
to 8.30 p.m., to make every "young person," and "every child" 
begin, break off, resume, or end his 12 or 8 hours at any 
moment they liked, and also permitted them to assign to differ 
ent persons different times for meals, these gentlemen soon 
discovered a new "system of relays," by which the labour- 
horses were not changed at fixed stations, but were constantly 
re-harnessed at changing stations. We do not pause longer on 
the beauty of this system, as we shall have to return to it later. 
But this much is clear at the first glance : that this system 
annulled the whole Factory Act, not only in the spirit, but in 
the letter. How could factory inspectors, with this complex 
book-keeping in respect to each individual child or young 
person, enforce the legally determined work time and the 
granting of the legal meal-times ? In a great many of the 
factories, the old brutalities soon blossomed out again un 
punished. In an interview with the Home Secretary (1844), 
the factory inspectors demonstrated the impossibility of any 
control under the newly invented relay system. 1 In the mean 
time, however, circumstances had greatly changed. The fac 
tory hands, especially since 1838, had made the Ten Hours 
Bill their economical, as they had made the Charter their 
political, election-cry. Some of the manufacturers, even, who 
had managed their factories in conformity with the Act of 
1833, overwhelmed Parliament with memorials on the im 
moral competition of their false brethren whom greater impu 
dence, or more fortunate local circumstances, enabled to break 
the law. Moreover, however much the individual manufac 
turer might give the rein to his old lust for gain, the spokes 
men and political leaders of the manufacturing class ordered 
a change of front and of speech towards the workpeople. They 
had entered upon the contest for the repeal of the Corn Laws, 
and needed the workers to help them to victory. They prom 
ised, therefore, not only a double-sized loaf of bread, but the 

x "Rpt. of Intp. of Fact.," Slit October, 1849, p. 6. 

The Working Day. 309 

enactment of the Ten Hours Bill in the Free Trade millen- 
ium. 1 Thus they still less dared to oppose a measure intended 
only to make the law of 1833 a reality. Threatened in their 
holiest interest, the rent of land, the Tories thundered with 
philanthropic indignation against the "nefarious practices" 2 
of their foes. 

* This was the origin of the additional Factory Act of June 
7th, 1844. It came into effect on September 10th, 1844. It 
places under protection a new category of workers, viz., the 
women over 18. They were placed in every respect on the 
same footing as the young persons, their work time limited to 
twelve hours, their night-labour forbidden, &c. For the first 
time, legislation saw itself compelled to control directly and 
officially the labour of adults. In the Factory Report of 1844- 
1845, it is said with irony : "No instances have come to my 
knowledge of adult women having expressed any regret at 
their rights being thus far interfered with." 3 The working 
time of children under 13 was reduced to 6, and in certain 
circumstances to 7 hours a-day. 4 

To get rid of the abuses of the "spurious relay-system," the 
law established besides others the following important regula 
tions : "That the hours of work of children and young persons 
shall be reckoned from the time when any child or young 
person shall begin to work in the morning." So that if A, 
e.g., begins work at 8 in the morning, and B at 10, B s work 
day must nevertheless end at the same hour as A s. "The 
time shall be regulated by a public clock," for example, the 
nearest railway clock, by which the factory clock is to be set. 
The occupier is to hang up a "legible" printed notice stating 
the hours for the beginning and ending of work and the times 
allowed for the several meals. Children beginning work be 
fore 12 noon may not be again employed after 1 p.m. The 
afternoon shift must therefore consist of other children than 

*"Rept. of Insp. of Fact," 81st October, 1848, p. 98. 

1 Leonard Horner uses the expression "nefarious practices" in his official reports. 
("Report of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1859, p. 7.) 

"Rept.," &c., 30th Sept., 1844, p. 16. 

* The Act allows children to be employed for 10 hours if they do not work day 
fter day, but only on alternate days. In the main this clause remained inoperative. 

3io Capitalist Production. 

those employed in the morning. Of the hour and a half for 
meal times, "one hour thereof at the least shall be given before 
three of the clock in the afternoon. . . . and at the same 
period of the day. No child or young person shall be em 
ployed more than five hours before 1 p.m. without an interval 
for meal time of at least 30 minutes. No child or young per 
son [or female] shall be employed or allowed to remain in any 
room in which any manufacturing process is then [i.e., at meal 
times] carried on/ 7 &c. 

It ha.: been seen that lliccc minutiae, which, with military 
uniformity, regulate by stroke of the clock the times, limits, 
pauses of the work, were not at all the products of Parlia 
mentary fancy. They developed gradually out of circum 
stances as natural laws of the modern mode of production. 
Their formulation, official recognition, and proclamation by the 
State, were the result of a long struggle of classes. One of 
tLeir first consequences was that in practice the working day 
of the adult males in factories became subject to the came 
limitations, since in most processes of production the co-opera 
tion of the children, young persons, and women 13 indis 
pensable. On the whole, therefore, during the pericJ from 
1844 to 1847, the 12 hours working day became r:neral and 
uniform in all branches of industry under the Factory Act 

The manufacturers, however, did not allow this "progress" 
without a compensating "retrogression." At their instigation 
the House of Commons reduced the minimum age for exploit 
able children from 9 to 8, in order to assure that additional 
supply of factory children which is due to capitalists, accord 
ing to divine and human law. 1 

The years 1846-47 are epoch-making in the economic history 
of England. The Repeal of the Corn Laws, and of the duties 
on cotton and other raw material ; free trade proclaimed as the 
guiding star of legislation ; in a word, the arrival of the mil- 
lenium. On the other hand, in the same years, the Chartist 
movement and the 10 hours agitation reached their highest 

1 "As a reduction in their hours of work would cause a larger number (of chil- 
drtn) to be employed, it was thought that the additional supply of children from 8 
to years of age would meet the increased demand" (1. c., p. 13.) 

The Working Day. 311 

point. They found allies in the Tories panting for revenge. 
Despite the fanatical opposition of the army of perjured Free 
traders, with Bright and Cobden at their head, the Ten Hours 
Bill, struggled for so long, went through Parliament. 

The new Factory Act of June 8th ? 1847, enacted that on 
July 1st, 1847, there should be a preliminary shortening of the 
working day for "young persons" (from 13 to 18), and all 
females to 11 hours, but that on May 1st, 1848, there should 
be a definite limitation of the working day to 10 hours. In 
other respects, the Act only amended and completed the Acts 
of 1833 and 1844. 

Capital now entered upon a preliminary campaign in order 
to hinder the Act from coming into full force on May 1st, 
1848. And the workers themselves, under the pretence that 
they had been taught by experience, were to help in the destruc 
tion of their own work. The moment was cleverly chosen. 
"It must be remembered, too, that there has been more than 
two years of great suffering (in consequence of the terrible 
crisis of 1846-47) among the factory operatives, from many 
mills having worked short time, and many being altogether 
closed. A considerable number of the operatives must there 
fore be in very narrow circumstances ; many, it is to be feared, 
in debt ; so that it might fairly have been presumed that at the 
present time they would prefer working the longer time, in 
order to make up for past losses, perhaps to pay off debts, or 
get their furniture out of pawn, or replace that sold, or to get 
a new supply of clothes for themselves and their families." 1 

The manufacturers tried to aggravate the natural effect of 
these circumstances by a general reduction of wages by 10%. 
This was done, so to say, to celebrate the inauguration of the 
new Free Trade era. Then followed a further reduction of 
8$% as soon as the working day was shortened to 11, and a 
reduction of double that amount as soon as it was finally 
shortened to 10 hours. Wherever, therefore, circumstances 
allowed it, a reduction of wages of at least 25% took place. 2 

1 "Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 81st Oct, 1848, p. 16. 

1 "I found that men who had been getting 10s. a week, had had Is. taken off for 
a reduction in the rate of 10 per cent, and Is. 6d. off the remaining 9s. for the re- 

312 Capitalist Production. 

Under such favourably prepared conditions the agitation 
among the factory workers for the repeal of the Act of 1847 
was begun. Neither lies, bribery, nor threats were spared in 
this attempt. But all was in vain. Concerning the half- 
dozen petitions in which workpeople were made to complain of 
"their oppression by the Act," the petitioners themselves de 
clared under oral examination, that their signatures had been 
extorted from them. "They felt themselves oppressed, but not 
exactly by the Factory Act." 1 But if the manufacturers did 
not succeed in making the workpeople speak as they wished, 
they themselves shrieked all the louder in press and Parliament 
in the name of the workpeople. They denounced the Factory 
Inspectors as a kind of revolutionary commissioners like thoso 
of the French National Convention ruthlessly sacrificing tho 
unhappy factory workers to their humanitarian crotchet. Thin 
manoeuvre also failed. Factory Inspector Leonard Homer 
conducted in his own person, and through his sub-inspectors, 
many examinations of witnesses in the factories of Lancashire. 
About 70% of the workpeople examined declared in favour 
of 10 hours, a much smaller percentage in favour of 11, and ar 
altogether insignificant minority for the old 12 hours. 2 

Another "friendly" dodge was to make the adult males 
work 12 to 15 hours, and then to blazon abroad this fact as 
the best proof of what the proletariat desired in its heart of 
hearts. But the "ruthless" Factory Inspector Leonard Homer 
was again to the fore. The majority of the "over-timers" 
declared: "They would much prefer working ten hours for 
less wages, but that they had no choice; that so many were 
out of employment (so many spinners getting very low wages 
by having to work as piecers, being unable to do better), that 
if they refused to work the longer time, others would im- 

duction in time, together 2s. 6d., and notwithstanding this, many of them said they 
would rather work 10 hours." 1. c. 

1 " Though I signed it [the petition], I said at the time I was putting my hand to a 
wrong thing. Then why did you put your hand to it? Because I should have 
been turned off if I had refused. Whence it would appear that this petitioner felt 
himself oppressed, but not exactly by the Factory Act." 1. c. p. 102. 

1 1. c. p. 17, 1. c. In Mr. Horner s district 10,270 adult male labourers were thus 
examined in 101 factories. Their evidence is to be found in the appendix to the 
Factory Reports for the half-year ending October 1848. These examinations furnish 
valuable material in other connexions also. 

The Working Day. 313 

mediately get their places, so that it was a question with them 
of agreeing to work the long time, or of being thrown out of 
employment altogether." 1 

-The preliminary campaign of capital thus came to grief, and 
the Ten Hours Act came into force May 1st, 1848. But mean 
while the fiasco of the Chartist party whose leaders were im 
prisoned, and whose organisation was dismembered, had shaken 
the confidence of the English working class in its own strength. 
Soon after this the June insurrections in Paris and its bloody 
suppression united, in England as on the Continent, all frac 
tions of the ruling classes, landlords and capitalists, stock- 
exchange wolves and shop-keepers. Protectionists and Free 
traders, government and opposition, priests and free-thinkers, 
young whores and old nuns, under the common cry for the sal 
vation of Property, Religion, the Family and Society. The 
working class was everywhere proclaimed, placed under a ban, 
under a virtual law of suspects. The manufacturers had no 
need any longer to restrain themselves. They broke out in 
open revolt not only against the Ten Hours Act, but against 
the whole of the legislation that since 1833 had aimed at re 
stricting in some measure the "free" exploitation of labour- 
power. It was a pro-slavery rebellion in miniature, carried on 
for over two years with a cynical recklessness, a terrorist 
energy all the cheaper because the rebel capitalist risked 
nothing except the skin of his "hands." 

To understand that which follows we must remember that 
the Factory Acts of 1833, 1844, and 1847 were all three in 
force so far as the one did not amend the other: that not one 
of these limited the working day of tho male worker over 18, 
and that since 1833 the 15 hours from 5.80 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. 
had remained the legal "day," within the limits of which 
at first the 12 ; and later tl.e 10 hours labour of young persons 
and women had to be performed under the prescribed condi 

The manufacturers began by here and there discharging a 

1 1. c. See the evidence collected by Leonard Homer himself, Nos. 69, 70, 71, 72, 
92, 93, and that collected by Sub-Inspector A., Nos. 51, 62, 68, 69, 62, 70, of the 
Appendix. One manufacturer, too, tells the plain truth. See No. 14, and No. 
266, 1. c. 

314 Capitalist Production. 

part of, in many cases half of, the young persons and women 
employed by them, and then, for the adult males, restoring 
the almost obsolete night-work. The Ten Hours Act, they 
cried, leaves no other alternative, 1 

Their second step dealt with the legal pauses for meals, 
Let us hear the Factory Inspectors. "Since the restriction of 
the hours of work to ten ; the factory occupiers maintain, 
although they have not yet practically gone the whole length, 
that supposing the hours of work to be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 
they fulfil the provisions of the statutes by allowing an hour 
before 9 a.m. and half-an-hour after 7 p.m. [for meals]. In 
some cases they now allow an hour, or half an hour for dinner, 
insisting at the same time, that they are not bound to allow 
any part of the hour and a half in the course of the factory 
working-day." 2 The manufacturers maintained therefore that 
the scrupulously strict provisions of the Acts of 1844 with 
regard to meal times only gave the operatives permission to eat 
and drink before coming into, and after leaving the factory 
i.e., at home. And why should not the workpeople eat their 
dinner before 9 in the morning? The crown lawyers, how 
ever, decided that the prescribed meal times "must be in the 
interval during the working hours, and that it will not be 
lawful to work for 10 hours continuously, from 9 a.m. to 7 
p.m., without any interval/ 73 

After these pleasant demonstrations, Capital preluded its 
revolt by a step which agreed with the letter of the law of 
1844, and was therefore legal. 

The Act of 1844 certainly prohibited the employment after 

1 p.m. of such children, from 8 to 13, as had been employed 
before noon. But it did not regulate in any way the 6^ 
hours work of the children whose work-time began at 12 mid 
day or later. Children of 8 might, if they began work at noon, 
be employed from 12 to 1, 1 hour ; from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, 

2 hours ; from 5 to 8 :30 in the evening, 3 hours ; in all, the 
legal 6^ hours. Or better still. In order to make their work 

1 Reports, &c., for 81st October, 1848, p. 183, 184. 
* Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1848, p. 47. 
Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1848, p. 180. 

The Working Day. 315 

coincide with that of the adult male labourers up to 8.30 p.m., 
the manufacturers only had to give them no work till 2 in the 
afternoon; they could then keep them in the factory without 
intermission till 8.30 in the evening. "And it is now expressly 
admitted that the practice exists in England from the desire 
of mill-owners to have their machinery at work for more than 
10 hours a-day, to keep the children at work with male adults 
after all the young persons and women have left, and until 
8.30 p.m., if the factory-owners choose." 1 Workmen and 
factory inspectors protested on hygienic and moral grounds, but 
Capital answered: 

"My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, 
The penalty and forfeit of nay bond." 

In fact, according to statistics laid before the House of Com 
mons on July 26th, 1850, in spite of all protests, on July 15th, 
1850, 3,742 children were subjected to this "practice" in 257 
factories. 2 Still this was not enough. The lynx eye of 
Capital discovered that the Act of 1844 did not allow 5 hours 
work before mid-day without a pause of at least 30 minutes for 
refreshment, but prescribed nothing of the kind for work after 
mid-day. Therefore, it claimed and obtained the enjoyment 
not only of making children of 8 drudge without intermission 
from 2 to 8.30 p.m., but also of making them hunger during 
that time. 

"Ay, his heart, 

So says the bond." 

-This Shylock-clinging to the letter of the law of 1844, so far 
as it regulated children s labour, was but to lead up to an open 

1 Reports, &c., 1 c., p. 142. 

3 Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1850, pp. 5, 6. 

8 The nature of capital remains the same in its developed as in its undeveloped 
form. In the code which the influence of the slave-owners, shortly before the out 
break of the American civil war, imposed on the territory of New Mexico, it is said 
that the labourer, in as much as the capitalist has bought his labour-power, "is his 
(the capitalist s) money." The same view was current among the Roman patricians. 
The money they had advanced to the plebeian debtor had been transformed via the 
means of subsistence into the flesh and blood of the debtor. This "flesh and blood" 
were, therefore, "their money." Hence, the Shylock-law of the Ten Fables. 
Linguet s hypothesis that the patrician creditors from time to time prepared, beyond 
the Tiber, banquets of debtors flesh, may remain as undecided as that of Daumr 
on the Christian Eucharist. 

gi6 Capitalist Production. 

revolt against the same law^ so far as it regulated the labour of 
"young persons and women." It will be remembered that the 
abolition of the "false relay system" was the chief aim and 
object of that law. The masters began their revolt with the 
simple declaration that the sections of the Act of 1844 which 
prohibited the ad libitum use of young persons and women in 
such short fractions of the day of 15 hours as the employer 
chose, were "comparatively harmless" so long as the work- 
time was fixed at 12 hours. But under the Ten Hours Ac", 
they were a "grievous hardship." 1 They informed the in 
spectors in the coolest manner that they should place them 
selves above the letter of the law, and re-introduce the old 
system on their own account 2 They were acting in the inter 
ests of the ill-advised operatives themselves, "in order to be 
able to pay them higher wages." "This was the only possible 
plan by which to maintain, under the Ten Hours Act, the in 
dustrial supremacy of Great Britain." "Perhaps it may be a 
little difficult to detect irregularities under the relay system; 
but what of that ? Is the great manufacturing interest of this 
country to be treated as a secondary matter in order to save 
same little trouble to Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors of Fac 
tories ?" 3 

All these shifts naturally were of no avail. The Factory 
Inspectors appealed to the Law Courts. But soon such a cloud 
of dust in the way of petitions from the masters overwhelmed 
the Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, that in a circular of 
August 5th, 1848, he recommends the inspectors not "to lay 
informations against mill-owners for a breach of the letter of 
the Act, or for employment of young persons by relays in cases 
in which there is no reason to believe that such young persons 
have been actually employed for a longer period than that 
sanctioned by law." Hereupon, Factory Inspector J. Stuart 
allowed the so-called relay system during the 15 hours of the 
factory day throughout Scotland, where it soon flourished again 
as of old. The English Factory Inspectors, on the other hand, 

1 Reports, &c., for SOth April, 1848, p. 28. 

Thus, among others, Philanthropist Ashworth to Leonard Homer, in a disgusting 
Quaker letter. (Reports, &c., April, 1849, p. 4.) 
L c-, p. 140. 

The Working Day. 317 

declared that the Home Secretary had no power dictatorially 
to suspend the law, and continued their legal proceedings 
against the pro-slavery rebellion. 

/But what was the good of summoning the capitalists when 
the Courts, in this case the country magistrates Cobbett s 
"Great Unpaid" acquitted them? In these tribunals, the 
masters sat in judgment on themselves. An example. One 
Eskrigge, cotton-spinner, of the firm of Kershaw, Leese, & 
Co., had laid before the Factory Inspector of his district the 
scheme of a relay system intended for his mill. Receiving a 
refusal, he at first kept quiet. A few months later, an in 
dividual named Robinson^ also a cotton-spinner, and if not his 
Man Friday, at all events related to Eskrigge, appeared before 
the borough magistrates of Stockport on a charge of introduc 
ing the identical plan of relays invented by Eskrigge. Four 
Justices sat, among them three cotton-spinners, at their head 
this same inevitable Eskrigge. Eskrigge acquitted Robinson, 
and now was of opinion that what was right for Robinson was 
fair for Eskrigge. Supported by his own legal decision, he in 
troduced the system at once into his own factory. 1 Of course, 
the composition of this tribunal was in itself a violation of the 
law. 2 These judicial farces, exclaims Inspector Howell, 
urgently call for a remedy either that the law should be so 
altered as to be made to conform to these decisions, or that it 
should be administered by a less fallible tribunal, whose de 
cisions would conform to the law. . . . when these cases are 
brought forward. I long for a stipendiary magistrate." 3 

The Crown lawyers declared the masters interpretation of 
the Act of 1848 absurd. But the Saviours of Society would 
not allow themselves to be turned from their purpose. Leonard 
Homer reports, "Having endeavoured to enforce the Act . . . 
by ten prosecutions in seven magisterial divisions, and having 
been supported by the magistrates in one case only. ... I 

Reports, 4c., for 80th April, 1849, pp. 21, 22. Cf. like examples ibid. pp. 4, 5. 

By I. and II. Will. IV., ch. 24, s. 10, known as Sir John Hobhouse s Factory 
Act, It was forbidden to any owner of a cotton-spinning or weaving mill, or the 
father, son, or brother of such owner, to act s Justice of the Peace in any in 
quiries that concerned the Factory Act 

.1 c. 

318 Capitalist Production. 

considered it useless to prosecute-^niora for this evasion of the 
law. That part of the Act o^ 1884\vhich was framed for 
securing uniformity in the houT^_^f^work, ... is thus no 
longer in force in my district (Lancashire). Neither have the 
sub-inspectors or myself any means of satisfying ourselves, 
when we inspect a mill working by shifts, that the young per 
sons and women are not working more than 10 hours a-day. 
. . . In a return of the 30th April, ... of mill-owners work 
ing by shifts, the number amounts to 114, and has been for 
some time rapidly increasing. In general, the time of work 
ing the mill is extended to 134 hours, from 6 a.m. to 7^ p.m., 
... in some instances it amounts to 15 hours, from 5 a.m. 
to 8^ p. m." 1 Already, in December, 1848, Leonard Homer 
had a list of 65 manufacturers and 29 overlookers who unani 
mously declared that no system of supervision could, under thn 
relay system, prevent enormous overwork. 2 Now, the same 
children and young persons were shifted from the spinning- 
room to the weaving-room, now, during 15 hours, from ono 
factory to another. 3 How was it possible to control a system 
which, "under the guise of relays, is some one of the many 
plans for shuffling the hands about in endless variety, anc 
shifting the hours of work and of rest for different individuals 
throughout the day, so that you may never have one complete 
set of hands working together in the same room at the same 
time." 4 

/ But altogether independently of actual overwork, this so- 
called relay-system was an offspring of capitalistic fantasy 
such as Fourier, in his humorous sketches of "Courtes 
Seances," has never surpassed, except that the "attraction of 
labour" was changed into the attraction of capital. Look, for 
example, at those schemes of the masters which the "respect 
able" press praised as models of "what a reasonable degree of 
care and method can accomplish." The personnel of the work 
people was sometimes divided into from 12 to 14 categories, 
which themselves constantly changed and rechanged their con- 

1 Reports, &a, for 30th April, 1849, p. ft. 

Reports, &c,, for 31st October, 1840, p. ft. 

Reports, &c-, for SOtli April, 1849, p. fl. 

Reports, &c* for 1st October, 1848, p. 5. 

The Working Day. 319 

rfituent parts. During the 15 hours of the factory day, capital 
dragged in the labourer now for 30 minutes, now for an hour, 
and then pushed him out again, to drag him into the factory 
and to thrust him out afresh, hounding him hither and thither, 
in scattered shreds of time, without ever losing hold of him 
until the full 10 hours work was done. As on the stage, the 
same persons had to appear in turns in the different scenes 
of the different acts. But as an actor during the whole course 
of the play belongs to the stage, so the operatives, during 15 
hours, belonged to the factory, without reckoning the time 
for going and coming. Thus the hours of rest were turned 
into hours of enforced idleness, which drove the youths to 
the pot-house, and the girls to the brothel. At every new 
trick that the capitalist, from day to day, hit upon for keep 
ing his machinery going 12 or 15 hours without increasing 
the number of his hands, the worker had to swallow his meals 
now in this fragment of time, now in that. At the time of the 
10 hours agitation, the masters cried out that the working mob 
petitioned in the hope of obtaining 12 hours wages for 10 
hours work. Now they reversed the medal. They paid 10 
hours wages for 12 or 15 hours lordship over labour-power. 1 
This was the gist of the matter, this the masters interpretation 
of the 10 hours law! These were the same unctuous free 
traders, perspiring with the love of humanity, who for full 10 
years, during the Anti-Corn Law agitation, had preached to 
the operatives, by a reckoning of pounds, shillings and pence, 
that with free importation of corn, and with the means pos 
sessed by English industry, 10 hours labour would be quite 
enough to enrich the capitalist. 2 This revolt of capital, after 
two years, was at last crowned with victory by a decision of 
one of the four highest Courts of Justice in England, the 
Court of Exchequer, which in a case brought before it on 
February 8th, 1850, decided that the manufacturers were 

1 Sec Reports, &c., for 80th April, 1849, p, 6, and the detailed explanation of the 
"shifting system," by Factory Inspectors HoweJl and Saunders, in "Reports, &c. t for 
81st October, 1848." See also the petition to the Queen from the clergy of Asntou 
nd vicinity, in the spring of 1849, against the "shift system.** 

Cf. for example, "The Factory Question aad the Ten Hours BilL" By R. H. 
Ore* 1*87. 

320 Capitalist Production. 

certainly acting against the sense of the Act of 1844, but that 
this Act itself contained certain words that rendered it mean 
ingless. "By this decision, the Ten Hours Act was abol 
ished." 1 A crowd of masters, who until then had been afraid 
of using the relay-system for young persons and women, now 
took it up heart and soul. 2 

But on this apparently decisive victory of capital, followed 
at once a revulsion. The workpeople had hitherto offered a 
passive, although inflexible and unremitting resistance. They 
now protested in Lancashire and Yorkshire in threatening 
meetings. The pretended Ten Hours Act, was thus simple 
humbug, parliamentary cheating, had never existed! The 
Factory Inspectors urgently warned the Government that the 
antagonism of classes had arrived at an incredible tension. 
Some of the masters themselves murmured: "On account of 
the contradictory decisions of the magistrates, a condition of 
things altogether abnormal and anarchial obtains. One lav/ 
holds in Yorkshire, another in Lancashire; one law in ono 
parish of Lancashire, another in its immediate neighborhood. 
The manufacturer in large towns could evade the law, tho 
manufacturer in country districts could not find the people 
necessary for the relay-system, still less for the shifting oj 
hands from one factory to another," &c. And the first birth 
right of capital is equal exploitation of labour-power by all 

je Under these circumstances a compromise between masters 
and men was effected that received the seal of Parliament in 
the additional Factory Act of August 5th, 1850. The work 
ing day for "young persons and women," was raised from 10 
to 10 hours for the first five days of the week, and was 
shortened to 7J on the Saturday. The work was to go on be 
tween 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., 8 with pauses of not less than 1 hours 
for meal-times, these meal-times to be allowed at one and the 

1 F. Engels: "The English Ten Hours Bill." (In the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 
Politisch-cekonomische Revue." Edited by K. Marx. April number, 1850, p. 13.) 
The same "high" Court of Justice discovered, during the American Civil War, 
verbal ambiguity which exactly reversed the meaning of the law against the arming 
of pirate ships. 

*Rep., &c., for 30th April, 1850. 

IB winter, from 7 *.m. to 7 p.m. may be rubstituted- 

The Working Day. 321 

same time for all, and conformably to the conditions of 1844. 
By this an end was put to the relay-system once for all. 1 For 
children s labour, the Act of 1844 remained in force. 

One set of masters, this time as before, secured to itself 
special seigneurial rights over the children of the proletariat. 
These were the silk manufacturers. In 1833 they had howled 
out in threatening fashion, "if the liberty of working children 
of any age for 10 hours a day were taken away, it would stop 
their works." 2 It would be impossible for them to buy a suffi 
cient number of children over 13. They extorted the privilege 
they desired. The pretext was shown on subsequent investiga 
tion to be a deliberate lie. 3 It did not, however, prevent them, 
during 10 years, from spinning silk 10 hours a day out of the 
blood of little children who had to be placed upon stools for 
the performance of their work. 4 The Act of 1844 certainly 
"robbed" them of the "liberty" of employing children under 
11 longer than 6 hours a day. But it secured to them, on the 
other hand, the privilege of working children between 11 and 
13, 10 hours a day, and of annulling in their case the educa 
tion made compulsory for all other factory children. This 
time the pretext was "the delicate texture of the fabric in 
which they were employed, requiring a lightness of touch, only 
to be acquired by their early introduction to these factories." 5 
The children were slaughtered out-and-out for the sake of their 
delicate fingers, as in Southern Russia the horned cattle for the 
sake of their hide and tallow. At length, in 1850, the privilege 
granted in 1844 was limited to the departments of silk- twist 
ing and silk-winding. But here, to make amends to capital 
bereft of its "freedom," the work time for children from 11 
to 13 was raised from 10 to 10 hours. Pretext: "Labour in 
silk mills was lighter than in mills for other fabrics, and less 
likely in other respects also to be prejudicial to health." 6 
Official medical inquiries proved afterwards that, on the con- 

1 "The present law (of 1850) was a compromise whereby the employed surrendered 
the benefit of the Ten Hours Act for the advantage of one uniform period for the 
commencement and termination of the labour of those whose labour is restricted." 
(Reports, 4c., for 30th April, 1852, p. 14.) 

Reports, ftc., for Sept., 1844, p. 18. L e, L c, 

1. c, 

Report* &c., for 81st Oct, 1861, p. M. 


3 22 

Capitalist Production. 

trary, "the average death-rate is exceedingly high in the silk 
districts, and amongst the female part of the population is 
higher even than it is in the cotton districts of Lancashire." 1 
Despite the protests of the Factory Inspector, renewed every 
6 months, the mischief continues to this hour. 2 
< The Act of 1850 changed the 15 hours time from 6 a.m. to 
8.30 p.m., into the 12 hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for "young 
persons and women" only. It did not, therefore, affect chil 
dren who could always be employed for half an hour before 
and 2 hours after this period, provided the whole of their 
labour did not exceed 6 hours. Whilst the bill was under 
discussion, the Factory Inspectors laid before Parliament sta 
tistics of the infamous abuses due to this anomaly. To no 
purpose. In the background lurked the intention of screwing 
up, during prosperous years, the working day of adult males 

M. c., p. 27. On the whole the working population, subject to the Factory Act, 
has greatly improved physically. All medical testimony agrees on this point, and 
personal observation at different times has convinced me of it. Nevertheless, and 
exclusive of the terrible death-rate of children in the first years of their life, the 
official reports of Dr. Greenhow show the unfavourable health condition of the manu 
facturing districts as compared with "agricultural districts of normal health." As 
evidence, take the following table from his 1861 report: 





of Adult 



of Adult 

Males en 
gaged in 


Name of District. 


engaged in 

Kind of Female 


per 100,000 

per 100,000 






















































Eight healthy agri 


cultural districts 


* It is well-known with what reluctance the English "free traders" gave up the 
protective duty on the silk manufacture. Instead of the protection against French 
importation, the absence of protection to English factory children now serves their 

The Working Day. 323 

to 15 hours by the aid of the children. The experience of the 
three following years showed that such an attempt must come 
to grief against the resistance of the adult male operatives. 
The Act of 1850 was therefore finally completed in 1853 by 
forbidding the "employment of children in the morning be 
fore and in the evening after young persons and women." 
Henceforth with a few exceptions the Factory Act of 1850 
regulated the working day of all workers in the branches of 
industry that come under it. 1 Since the passing of the first 
Factory Act half a century had elapsed. 2 

Factory legislation for the first time went beyond its original 
sphere in the "Printworks Acts of 1845." The displeasure 
with which capital received this new "extravagance" speaks 
through every line of the Act. It limits the working day for 
children from 8 to 13, and for women to 16 hours, between 
6 a.m. and 10 p.m., without any legal pause for meal times. 
It allows males over 13 to be worked at will day and night. 3 
It is a Parliamentary abortion. 4 

However, the principle had triumphed with its victory in 
those great branches of industry which form the most char 
acteristic creation of the modern mode of production. Their 
wonderful development from 1853 to 1860, hand-in-hand with 
the physical and moral regeneration of the factory workers, 

1 During 1859 and 1860, the zenith years of the English cotton industry, some 
manufacturers tried, by the decoy bait of higher wages for over-time, to reconcile 
the adult male operatives to an extension of the working day. The hand-mule spin 
ners and self-actor minders put an end to the experiment by a petition to their 
employers in which they say, "Plainly speaking, our lives are to us a burthen; and, 
while we are confined to the mills nearly two days a wetk mart than the other 
operatives of the country, we feel like helots in the land, and that we are perpetu 
ating a system injurious to ourselves and future generations. . . . This, there 
fore, is to give you most respectful notice that when we commence work again after 
the Christmas and New Years holidays, we shall work 60 hours per week, and no 
more, or from six to six, with one hour and a half out." (Reports, Ac., for SOth 
April, 1860, p. 80.) 

On the means that the wording of this Act afforded for its violation cf. the 
Parliamentary Return "Factory Regulations Act" (6th August, 1859), and in it 
Leonard Homer s "Suggestions for amending the Factory Acts to enable the Inspec 
tors to prevent illegal working, now become very prevalent." 

"Children of the age of 8 years and upwards, have, indeed, been employed from 
6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the last half year in my district." (Reports, &c., for 31st 
October, 1867, p. 39.) 

* "The Printworks Act is admitted to be a failure, both with reference to it* 
educational and protective provisions." (Reports, 4c., for Slst October, 1868, p. 58.) 

324 Capitalist Production. 

struck the most purblind. The masters from whom the legal 
limitation and regulation had been wrung step by step after a 
civil war of half a century, themselves referred ostentatiously 
to the contrast with the branches of exploitation still "free." 1 
The Pharisees of "political economy" now proclaimed the dis 
cernment of the necessity of a legally fixed working day as a 
characteristic new discovery rf their "science." 2 It will be 
easily understood that after the factory magnates had resigned 
themselves and become reconciled to the inevitable, the pow?r 
of resistance of capital gradually weakened, whilst at the same 
time the power of attack of the working class grew with the 
number of its allies in the classes of society not immediately 
interested in the question. Hence the comparatively rap d 
advance since 1860. 

The dye-works and bleach-works all came under the Factory 
Act of 1850 in 1860 ; 3 lace and stocking manufacturers in 

In consequence of the first report of the Commission on the 
employment of children (1863), the same fate was shared by 
the manufacturers of all earthenwares (not merely pottery), 
lucifer-matches, percussion-caps, cartridges, carpets, fustian- 

l Thus, e.g., E. Potter in a letter to the "Times" of March 24th, 1863. Th 
"Times" reminded him of the manufacturers revolt against the Ten Hours Bill. 

Thus, among others, Mr. W. Newmarch, collaborator and editor of Tooke s "His 
tory of Prices." Is it a scientific advance to make cowardly concessions to put lie 

The Act passed in 1860, determined that, In regard to dye and bleach-works, the 
working day should be fixed on August 1st, 1861, provisionally at 12 hours, and 
definitely on August 1st, 1862, at 10 hours, i.e. t at 10 1 / 3 hours for ordinary days, and 
7}^ for Saturday. Now, when the fatal year, 1862, came, the old farce was repeated. 
Besides, the manufacturers petitioned Parliament to allow the employment of young 
persons and women for 12 hours during one year longer. "In the existing condition 
of the trade (the time of the cotton famine), It was greatly to the advantage of ih 
operatives to work 12 hours per day, and make wages when they could." A bill to 
this effect had been brought in, "and it was mainly due to the action of the operat ve 
bleachers Jn Scotland that . :e bill was abandoned." (Reports, &c., for 31st October, 
1862, p. 14-15.) Thus lefeatjd by the very work-people, in whose name it pre 
tended to speak, Capital Discovered, with the help of lawyer spectacles, that the Act 
-)f 1860, drawn up, like all the Acts of Parliament for the "protection of labou%" 
/n equivocal phrases, gave them a pretext to exclude from its working the calender ?r 
and finishers. English jurisprudence, ever the faithful servant of capital, sanctiored 
in the Court of Common Pleas this piece of pettifogging. "The operatives hfve 
been greatly disappointed . . . they have complained of overwork, and it is 
greatly to be regretted that the clear intention of the legislature should have f si ed 
by reason of a faulty definition." (L c., p. 18.) 

The Working Day. 325 

catting, and maay prot-erfses included under the name of 
"finishing." In the year 1863 bleaching in the open air 1 and 
baking were placed under special Acts, by which, in the 
former, the labour of young persons and women during the 
night-time (from 8 in the evening to 6 in the morning), and in 
the latter, the employment of journeymen bakers under 18, 
between 9 in the evening and 5 in the morning were forbidden. 
We shall return to the later proposals of the same Commission, 
which threatened to deprive of their "freedom" all the import 
ant branches of English Industry, with the exception of agri 
culture, mines, and the means of transport. 2 

1 The "open-air bleachers" had evaded the law of 1860, by meina of the lie that no 
women worked at it in the night. The lie was exposed by the Factory Inspectors, 
and at the same time Parliament was, by petitions t rom the operatives, bereft f 
its notions as to the cool meadow-fragrance, in which bleaching in the open-air wa 
reported to take place. In this aerial bleaching, drying-rooms were used at tempera 
tures of from 90 to 100 Fahrenheit, in which the work was done for the moat ;jart 
by ^irls. "Cooling" is the technical expression for their occasional escape fiom the 
drying-rooms into the fresh air. "Fifteen girls in stoves. Heat from 80 to 90 for 
linens, and 100 and upwards for cambrics. Twelve Jrls ironing and doing up 
in a smr.ll room about 10 f :et square, in the centre of which is a close stove. The 
girls stand r>und the stove, which throws out a terrific heat, and dries the cambrics 
rapidly for the ironers. The hours of work for these hands are unlimited. If busy, 
they work till 9 or 12 at night f r successive nights." (Reports, &c., for 31st Octo 
ber, 1862, p. 56.) A medical man states: "No special hours are allowed for cooling, 
but if the temperature gets too high, or the workers hands get soiled from perspira 
tion, they are allowed to go out for a few minutes. . . . My experience, which 
is considerable, in treating the diseases of stove workers, compels me to express the 
opinion that their sanitary condition is by no means so high as that of the operatives 
in a spinning factory (and Capital, in its memorials to Parliament, had painted them 
as floridly healthy, after the manner of Rubens). The diseases most observable 
amongst them are phthisis, bronchitis, irregularity of uterine functions, hysteria in 
its most aggravated forms, and rheumatism. All of these, I believe, are either di 
rectly or indirectly induced by the impure, overheated air of the apartments in 
which the hands are employed, and the want of sufficient comfortable clothing to 
protect them from the cold, damp atmosphere, in winter, when going to their 
homes." (1. c. p. 56-57.) The Factory Inspectors remarked on the supplementary 
law of 1860, torn from these open-air bleachers: "The Act has not orly failed to 
afford that protection to the workers which it c.ppears to offer, but contains a clause 
. . . apparently so worded that, unless persons are detected working after 8 
o clock at night they appear to come under no protective provisions at all, and if 
they do so work, the mode of proof is so doubtful that a conviction can scarcely 
follow." (1. c., p. 52.) "To all intents and purposes, therefore, as an Act for any 
benevolent or educational purpose, it is a failure; since it can scarcely be called 
benevolent to permit, which is tantamount to compelling, women and children to 
work 14 hours a day with or without meals, as the case may be, and perhaps for 
longer hours ihan these, without limit as to age, without reference to sex, and 
without regard to the social habits of the families of the neighbourhood, in which 
such works (bleaching and dyeing) are situated." (Reports, &c., for 30th April, 
1863, p. 40.) 

J Note to the 2nd Ed. Since 1836, when I wrote the above passages, a reaction 
ha again set in. 

326 Capitalist Production. 



The reader will bear in mind that the production of surplus- 
value, or the extraction of surplus-labour, is the specific end 
and aim, the sum and substance, of capitalist production quite 
apart from any changes in the mode of production, which 
may arise from the subordination of labour to capital. He 
will remember that as far as we have at present gone, only the 
independent labourer, and therefore only the labourer legally 
qualified to act for himself, enters as a vendor of a commodity 
into a contract with the capitalist. If, therefore, in our his 
torical sketch, on the one hand, modern industry ; on the other, 
the labour of those who are physically and legally minors, play 
important parts, the former was to us only a special depart 
ment, and the latter only a specially striking example of labour 
exploitation. Without, however, anticipating the subsequent 
development of our inquiry, from the mere connexion of th3 
historic facts before us, it follows : 

First. The passion of capital for an unlimited and reckless 
extension of the working day, is first gratified in the industries 
earliest revolutionised by water-power, steam, and machinery, 
in those first creations of the modern mode of production, 
cotton, wool, flax, and silk spinning, and weaving. The 
changes in the material mode of production, and the corre 
sponding changes in the social relations of the producers 1 gavo 
rise first to an extravagance beyond all bounds, and then in 
opposition to this, called forth a control on the part of Society 
which legally limits, regulates, and makes uniform the work 
ing day and its pauses. This control appears, therefore, dur 
ing the first half of the nineteenth century simply as ex 
ceptional legislation. 2 As soon as this primitive dominion or! 

1 "The conduct of each of these classes (capitalists and workmen) has been tht 
result of the relative situation in which they have been placed." (Reports, &c., for 
31st October, 1848, p. 113.) 

* "The employments, placed under restriction, were connected with the manufac 
ture of textile fabrics by the aid of steam or water-power. There were two condi 
tions to which an employment must be subject to cause it to be inspected, viz., the 
use of steam or water-power, and the manufacture of certain specified fibres." (Re 
port*, &c., for Slst October, 1864, p. 6.) 

The Working Day. 327 

the new mode of production was conquered, it was found that, 
in the meantime, not only had many other branches of produc 
tion been made to adopt the same factory system, but that 
manufacturers with more or less obsolete methods, such as 
potteries, glass-making, &c., that old-fashioned handicrafts, 
like baking, and, finally, even that the so-called domestic in 
dustries such as nail-making, 1 had long since fallen as com 
pletely under capitalist exploitation as the factories themselves. 
Legislation was, therefore, compelled to gradually get rid of 
its exceptional character, or where, as in England, it proceeds 
after the manner of the Roman Casuists, to declare any house 
in which work was done to be a factory. 2 

Second. The history of the regulation of the working day in 
certain branches of production, and the struggle still going on 
in others in regard to this regulation, prove conclusively that 
the isolated labourer, the labourer as "free" vendor of his 
labour-power, when capitalist production has once attained a 
certain stage, succumbs without any power of resistance. The 
creation of a normal working day is, therefore, the product of 
a protracted civil war, more or less dissembled, between the 
capitalist class and the working class. As the contest takes 
place in the arena of modern industry, it first breaks out in 
the home of that industry England. 3 The English factory 
workers were the champions, not only of the English, but of 
the modern working-class generally, as their theorists were 
the first to throw down the gauntlet to the theory of capital. 4 

1 On the condition of so-called domestic industries, specially valuable materials 
are to be found in the latest reports of the Children s Employment Commission. 

1 "The Acts of last Session (1864) . . . embrace a diversity of occupations, 
the customs in which differ greatly, and the use of mechanical power to give motion 
to machinery is no longer one of the elements necessary, as formerly, to constitute, 
in legal phrase, a Factory. " (Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1864, p. 8.) 

* Belgium, the paradise of Continental Liberalism, shows no trace of this move 
ment. Even in the coal and metal mines, labourers of both sexes, and all ages, are 
consumed in perfect "freedom," at any period, and through any length of time. 
Of every 1000 persons employed there, 733 are men, 88 women, 135 boys, and 44 
girls under 16; in the blast-furnaces, &c., of every 1000, 688 are men, 149 women, 
98 boys, and 85 girls under 16. Add to this the low wages for the enormous exploi 
tation of mature and immature labour-power. The average daily pay for a man is 
2s. 8d. ( for a woman, Is. 8d., for a boy, Is. 2J^d. As a result, Belgium had in 1863, 
as compared with 1850, nearly doubled both the amount and the value of its exports 
of coal, iron, &c. 

* Robert Owen, soon after 1810, not only maintained the necessity of a limitation 

328 Capitalist Production. 

Hence, the philosopher of the Factory, Ure, denounces as *n 
ineffable disgrace to the English working-class that they in 
scribed "the slavery of the Factory Acts" on the banner whi*ii 
they bore against capital, manfully striving for "perfect free 
dom of labour." 1 

France limps slowly behind England. The February rev 
olution was necessary to bring into the world the 12 hours 
law, 2 which is much more deficient than its English original. 
For all that, the French revolutionary method has its special 
advantages. It once for all commands the same limit to the 
working-day in all shops and factories without distinction, 
whilst English legislation reluctantly yields to the pressure of 
circumstances, now on this point, nov on that, and is getting 
lost in a hopelessly bewildering tangle of contradictory enact 
ments. 3 On the other hand, the French law proclaims as a 
principle that which in England was only won in the name 
of children, minors, and women, and has been only recently 
for the first time claimed as a general right. 4 

of the working day in theory, but actually introduced the 10 hours day into his 
factory at New Lanark. This was laughed at as a communistic Utopia; so were his 
"Combination of children s education with productive labour," and the Co-operative 
Societies of working-men, first called into being by him. To-day, the first Utopia is 
a Factory Act, the second figures as an official phrase in all Factory Acts, the third 
is already being used as a cloak for reactionary humbug. 

x Ure: "French translation, Philosophic des Manufactures." Paris, 1836, VoL II., 
p. 39, 40, 67, 77, &c. 

2 In the Compte Rendu of the International Statistical Congress at Paris, 1856, it 
is stated: "The French law, which limits the length of daily labour in factories and 
workshops to 12 hours, does not confine this work to definite fixed hours. For 
children s labour only the work-time is prescribed as between 5 a. m. and 9 p. m. 
Therefore, some of the masters use the right which this fatal silence gives them to 
keep their works going, without intermission, day in, day out, possibly with the 
exception of Sunday. For this purpose they use two different sets of workers, of 
whom neither is in the workshop more than 12 hours at a time, but the work of the 
establishment lasts day and night. The law is satisfied, but is humanity?" Besides 
"the destructive influence of night labour on the human organism," stress is also 
laid upon "the fatal influence of the association of the two sexes by night in the 
same badly-lighted workshops." 

"For instance, there is within my district one occupier who, within the same 
curtilage, is at the same time a bleacher and dyer under the Bleaching and Dyeing 
Works Act, a printer under the Print Works Act, and a finisher under the Factory 
Act." (Report of Mr. Baker, in Reports, &c., for Octobre 81st, 1861, p. 20.) After 
enumerating the different provisions of these Acts, and the complications arising from 
them, Mr. Baker says: "It will hence appear that it must be very difficult to secure 
the execution of these three Acts of Parliament where the occupier chooses to evade 
the law." But what is assured to the lawyers by this is lawsuits. 
* Thus the Factory Inspectors at last venture to say: "These objections (of 

The Working Day. 329 

In the United States of Js orth America, every independent 
movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery dis 
figured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate 
itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. 
But out of the death of slavery a new life at once arose. The 
first fruit of the Civil War was the eight hours agitation, that 
ran with the seven-leagued boots of the locomotive from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California. The 
General Congress of Labour at Baltimore (August 16th, 1866) 
declared : "The first and great necessity of the present, to free 
the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is the pass 
ing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal work 
ing-day in all States of the American Union. We are resolved 
to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is 
attained." 1 At the same time, the Congress of the Inter 
national Working Men s Association at Geneva, on the prop 
osition of the London General Council, resolved that "the 
limitation of the working-day is a preliminary condition with 
out which all further attempts at improvement and emancipa 
tion must prove abortive. . . . the Congress proposes 
eight hours as the legal limit of the working-day." 

Thus the movement of the working-class on both sides of 
the Atlantic, that had grown instinctively out of the conditions 
of production themselves, endorsed the words of the English 
Factory Inspector, R. J. Saunders : "Further steps towards a 
reformation of society can never be carried out with any hope 
of success, unless the hours of labour be limited, and the pre 
scribed limit strictly enforced." 2 

It must be acknowledged that our labourer comes out of the 

capital to the legal limitation of the working-day) must succumb before the broad 
principle of the rights of labour. . . . There is a time when the master s right in 
his workman s labour ceases, and his time becomes his own, even if there were no 
exhaustion in the question." (Reports, &c., for 31st Oct., 1862, p. 54.) 

1 "We, the workers of Dunkirk, declare that the length of time of labour required 
under the present system is too great, and that, far from leaving the worker time for 
rest and education, it plunges him into a condition of servitude but little better than 
slavery. That is why we decide that 8 hours are enough for a working-day, and 
nnght to be legally recognized as enough; why we call to our help that powerful 
lever, the press; . . . and why we shall consider all those that refuse us thia 
help as enemies of the reform of labour and of the rights of the labourer." (Reso 
lution of the Working Men of Dunkirk, New York State, 1806.) 

Reports, &c. f for Oct., 1848, p. 112. 

330 Capitalist Production. 

process of production other than he entered. In the market 
he stood as owner of the commodity "labour- power" face to 
face with other owners of commodities, dealer against dealer. 
The contract, by which he sold to the capitalist his labour- 
power proved, so to say, in black and white that he disposed 
of himself freely. The bargain concluded, it is discovered 
that he was no "free agent," that the time for which he is free 
to sell his labour-power is the time for which he is forced to 
sell it, 1 that in fact the vampire will not lose its hold on him 
"so long as there is a muscle, a nerve, a drop of blood to be 
exploited." 2 For "protection" against "the serpent of their 
agonies," the labourers must put their heads together, and, as 
a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful social 
barrier that shall prevent the very workers from selling, by 
voluntary contract with capital, themselves and their families 
into slavery and death. 3 In place of the pompous catalogue 
QJLtl/e "inalienable rights of man" comes the modest Magna 
Charta of a legally limited working-day, which shall make 
clear -^Svhen the time which the worker sells is ended, and 
when his own begins." 4 Quantum mutatus ab illo! 

1 "The proceedings (the manoeuvres of capital, e.g., from 1848-50) have afforded, 
moreover, incontrovertible proof of the fallacy of the assertion so often advanced, 
that operatives need no protection, but may be considered as free agents in the dis 
posal of the only property which they possess the labour of their hands and the 
sweat of their brows." (Reports, &c., for April 30th, 1850, p. 45.) "Free labour 
(if so it may be termed) even in a free country, requires the strong arm of the law 
to protect it." (Reports, &c., for October 31st, 1804, p. 84.) "To permit, which is 
tantamount to compelling ... to work 14 hours a day with or without meals," 
&c. (Repts., &c., for April 30th, 1863, p. 40.) Friedrich Engels, 1. c., p. 6. 

The 10 Hours Act has, in the branches of industry that come under it, "put an 
end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers." (Reports, &c., 
for 81st Oct., 1859, p. 47.) "Capital (in factories) can never be employed in keep 
ing the machinery in motion beyond a limited time, without certain injury to the 
health and morals of the labouiers employed; and they are not in a position to 
protect themselves," (1. c., p. 8.) 

* "A still greater boon is the distinction at last made clear between the worker i 
own time and his master s. The worker knows now when that which he sells is 
ended, and when his own begins; and by possessing a sure foreknowledge of this, is 
enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own purposes." (1. c., p. 52.) "By 
making them masters of their own time (the Factory Acts) have given them a moral 
energy which is directing them to the eventual possession of political power" (1. c., 
p. 47). With suppressed irony, and in very well weighed words, the Factory In 
spectors hint that the actual law also frees the capitalist from some of the brutality 
natural to a man who is a mere embodiment of capital, and that it has given him 
time for little "culture." Formerly the master had no time for anything but money; 
the servant had no time for anything but labour" (1. c., p. 48). 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 331 



IN this chapter, as hitherto, the value of labour-power, and 
therefore the part of the working-day necessary for the repro 
duction or maintenance iv "lint labour-power, are supposed to 
be O iven, constant magnitudes. 

This premised, with tho rate, the mass is at the same time 
given of the surplus-value that the individual labourer fur 
nishes to the capitalist in a definite period of time. If, e.g., 
the necessary labour amounts to u hours daily, expressed in a 
quantum ox *old=3 shillings, then 3s. is the daily value of 
one labour-power or the value of th< capital advanced in the 
buying of one lauour-^owcr. If, urther, the rate of surplus- 
value be=100%, this .aiiablc capi1:.l of 3s. produces a mass 
of surplus-value of os., or "he labourer supplies daily a mass of 
surplus-labour equ. J to * hour*. 

But the variable capital 01 n capitalist is the expression in 
money of the total value of all the labour-powers that he 
employs simultaneously. Its value is, therefore, equal to the 
average value of one labour-power, multiplied by the number 
of labour-powers employed. With a given value of labour- 
power, therefore, the magnitude of the variable capital varies 
directly as the number of labourers employed simultaneously. 
If the daily value of one labour-power = 3s., then a capital of 
300s. must be advanced in order to exploit daily 100 labour- 
powers, of n times 3s., in order to exploit daily n labour- 

In the same way, if a variable capital of 3s., being the daily 
value of one Labour-power, produce a daily surplus-value of 3s., 
a variable capital rf 300s. will produce a daily surplus-value of 
300s., and one of n times 3s. a daily surplus-value of nX3s. 
The mass of the surplus-value produced is therefore equal to 
the surplus-value which the working-day of one labourer gup- 
plies multiplied by the number of labourers employed. But 

332 Capitalist Production. 

as further the mass of surplus-value which a single labourer 
produces, the value of labour-power being given, is determined 
by the rate of the surplus-value, this law follows : the mass of 
the surplus-value produced is equal to the amount of the 
variable capital advanced, multiplied by the rate of surplus- 
value ; in other words : it is determined by the compound ratio 
between the number of labour-powers exploited simultaneously 
by the same capitalist and the degree of exploitation of each 
individual labour-power. 

Let the mass of the surplus-value be S, the surplus-value 
supplied by the individual labourer in the average day s, the 
variable capital daily advanced in the purchase of one in 
dividual labour-power v, the sum total of the variable capital 
V, the value of an average labour-power P, its degree of ex- 

ploitation a ^necessary-labor) ap d the number of labourers employed 
n ; we have : 

S = 


It is always supposed, not only that the value of an average 
labour-power is constant, but that the labourers employed by 
a capitalist are reduced to average labourers. There are ex 
eeptional cases in which the surplus-value produced does not 
increase in proportion to the number of labourers exploited, 
but then the value of the labour-power does not remain con 

In the production of a definite mass of surplus-value, there 
fore, the decrease of one factor may be compensated by the in 
crease of the other. If the variable capital diminishes, and at 
the same time the rate of surplus-value increases in the same 
ratio, the mass of surplus-value produced remains unaltered. 
If on our earlier assumption the capitalist must advance 3008., 
in order to exploit 100 labourers a day, and if the rate of 
surplus-value amounts to 50%, this variable capital of 300s. 
yields a surplus-value of 150s. or of 100X3 working hours. 
If the rate of surplus-value doubles, or the working day, in- 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 333 

stead of being extended from 6 to 9, is extended from 6 to 12 
hours and at the same time variable capital is lessened by half, 
and reduced to 150s., it yields also a surplus-value of 150s. or 
50X6 working hours. Diminution of the variable capital may 
therefore be compensated by a proportionate rise in the degree 
of exploitation of labour-power, or the decrease in the number 
of the labourers employed by a proportionate extension of the 
working-day. Within certain limits therefore the supply of 
labour exploitable by capital is independent of the supply of 
labourers. 1 On the contrary, a fall in the rate of surplus- 
value leaves unaltered the mass of the surplus-value produced, 
if the amount of the variable capital, or number of the labour 
ers employed, increases in the same proportion. 

Nevertheless, the compensation of a decrease in the number 
of labourers employed, or of the amount of variable capital 
advanced, by a rise in the rate of surplus-value, or by the 
lengthening of the working-day, has impassable limits. What 
ever the value of labour-power may be, whether the working 
time necessary for the maintenance of the labourer is 2 or 10 
hours, the total value that a labourer can produce, day in, day 
out, is always less than the value in which 24 hours of labour 
are embodied, less than 12s., if 12s. is the money expression for 
24 hours of realized labour. In our former assumption, ac 
cording to which 6 working hours are daily necessary in order 
to reproduce the labour-power itself or to replace the value 
of the capital advanced in its purchase, a variable capital of 
1500s., that employs 500 labourers at a rate of surplus-value of 
100% with a 12 hours working-day, produces daily a surplus- 
value of 1500s. or of 6X500 working hours. A capital of 
300s. that employs 100 labourers a day with a rate of surplus- 
value of 200% or with a working-day of 18 hours, produces 
only a mass of surplus-value of 600s. or 12X100 working 
hours ; and its total value-product, the equivalent of the varia 
ble capital advanced plus the surplus-value, can, day in, day 
out, never reach the sum of 1200s. or 24X100 working hours. 

1 This elementary law appears to be unknown to the vulgar economists, who, up- 
sidedown Archimedes, in the determination of the market-price of labour by supply 
and demand, imagine they have found the fulcrum by means of which, not to roovt 
the world, but to stop its motion. 

334 Capitalist Production. 

The absolute limit of the average working-day this being by 
Nature always less than 2-i hours sets an absolute limit to 
the compensation of a reduction of variable capital by a higher 
rate of surplus-value, or of the decrease of the number of la 
bourers exploited by a higher degree of exploitation of labour- 
power. This palpable law is of importance for the clearing up 
of many phenomena, arising from a tendency (to be worked 
out later on) of capital to reduce as much as possible the num 
ber of labourers employed by it, or its variable constituent 
transformed into labour-power, in contradiction to its other 
tendency to produce the greatest possible mass of surplus-value. 
On the other hand, if the mass of labour-power employed, or 
the amount of variable capital, increases, but not in proportion, 
to the fall in the rate of surplus-value, the mass of the surplus- 
value produced, falls. 

A third law results from the determination, of the mass of 
the surplus-value produced, by the two factors : rate of surplus- 
value and amount of variable capital advanced. The rate of 
surplus-value, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power, 
and the value of labour-power, or the amount of necessary 
working time being given, it is self-evident that the greater the 
variable capital, the greater would be the mass of the value 
produced and of the surplus-value. If the limit of the work 
ing-day is given, and also the limit of its necessary constituent, 
the mass of value and surplus-value that an individual capital 
ist produces, is clearly exclusively dependent on the mass oi 
labour that he sets in motion. But this, under the conditiona 
supposed above, depends on the mass of labour-power, or the 
number of labourers whom he exploits, and this number in ita 
turn is determined by the amount of the variable capital ad 
vanced. With a given rate of surplus-value, and a given value 
of labour-power, therefore, the masses of surplus-value pro 
duced vary directly as the amounts of the variable capitala 
advanced. Now we know that the capitalist divides his capita] 
into two parts. One part he lays out in means of production. 
This is the constant part of his capital. The other part he lays 
out in living labour-power. This part forms his variable 
capital. On the basis of the same mode of social production, 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 335 

the division of capital into constant and variable differs in 
different branches of production, and within the same branch 
of production, too, this relation changes with changes in the 
technical conditions and in the social combinations of the pro 
cesses of production. But in whatever proportion a given 
capital breaks up into a constant and a variable part, whether 
the latter is to the former as 1 : 2 or 1 : 10 or 1 : x, the law just 
laid down is not affected by this. For, according to our previ- 
ious analysis, the value of the constant capital reappears in the 
value of the product, but does not enter into the newly produced 
value, the newly created value-product. To employ 1000 
spinners, more raw material, spindles, &c., are, of course, re 
quired, than to employ 100. The value of these additional 
means of production however may rise, fall, reman, unaltered, 
be large or small ; it has no influence on the process of creation 
of surplus-value by means of the labour-powers that put them 
in motion. The law demonstrated above now, therefore, take* 
this form : the masses of value and of surplus-value produced 
by different capitals the value of labour-power being given 
and its degree of exploitation being equal vary directly as the 
amounts of the variable constituents of these capitals, i.e., as 
their constituents transformed into living labour-power. 

This law clearly contradicts all experience based on appear 
ance. Every one knows that a cotton spinner, who, reckoning 
the percentage on the whole of his applied capital, employs 
much constant and little variable capital, does not, on account 
of this, pocket less profit or surplus-value than a baker, who 
relatively sets in motion much variable and little constant 
capital. For the solution of this apparent contradiction, many 
intermediate terms are as yet wanted, as from the standpoint 
of elementary algebra many intermediate terms are wanted to 
understand that J may represent an actual magnitude. Class 
ical economy, although not formulating the law, holds instinc 
tively to it, because it is a necessary consequence of the general 
law of value. It tries to rescue the law from collision with 
contradictory phenomena by a violent abstraction. It will be 
Been later 1 how the school of Ricardo has come to grief over 

1 Further particulars will be found in "Theories of Surplus-Value, 1 edited by 
Karl Kautsky. 

336 Capitalist Production. 

this stumbling-block. Vulgar economy which, indeed, <f 
really learnt nothing," here as everywhere sticks to appear 
ances in opposition to the law which regulates and explains 
them. In opposition to Spinoza, it believes that "ignorance is 
a sufficient reason." 

The labour which is set in motion by the total Capital of a 
society, day in, day out, may be regarded as a single collective 
working-day. If, e.g., the number of labourers is a million, 
and the average working-day of u labourer is 10 hours, the 
social working-day consists of ten million hours. With a given 
length of this working-day, whether its limits are fixed 
physically or socially, the mass of surplus-value can only be in 
creased by increasing the number of labourers, i.e., of the 
labouring population. The growth of population here forma 
the mathematical limit to the production of surplus-value by 
the total social capital. On the contrary, with a given amount 
of population, this limit is formed by the possible lengthening 
of the working-day. 1 It will, however, be seen in the follow 
ing chapter that this law only holds for the form of surplus - 
value dealt with up to the present. 

From the treatment of the production of surplus-value, so 
far, it follows that not every sum of money, or of value, is at 
pleasure transformable into capital. To effect this transforma 
tion, in fact, a certain minimum of money or of exchange - 
value must be presupposed in the hands of the individual 
possessor of money or commodities. The minimum of variable 
capital is the cost price of a single labour-power, employed tho 
whole year through, day in, day out, for the production o:: 
surplus-value. If this labourer were in possession of his own 
means of production, and were satisfied to live as a labourer, 
he need not work beyond the time necessary for the reproduc 
tion of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day. He would , 
besides, only require the means of production sufficient for & 
working hours. The capitalist, on the other hand, who make*. 

1 "The labour, that is the economic time, of society, is a given portion, say tec 
hours a day cf a million of people, or ten million hours. . . . Capital has it: 
boundary of increase. This boundary may, at any given period, be attained in tb< extent of economic time employed." ("An Essay on the Political Economy o] 
Nations." London, 1821, pp. 47, 49.) 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 337 

him do, besides these 8 hours, say 4 hours surplus-labour, re 
quires an additional sum of money for furnishing the addi 
tional means of production. On our supposition, however, he 
would have to employ two labourers in order to live, on the 
surplus-value appropriated daily, as well as, and no better than 
a labourer, i.e., to be able to satisfy his necessary wants. In 
this case the mere maintenance of life would be the end of his 
production, not the increase of wealth; but this latter is im 
plied in capitalist production. That he may live only twice 
as well as an ordinary labourer, and besides turn half of the 
surplus-value produced into capital, he would have to raise, 
with the number of labourers, the minimum of the capital ad 
vanced 8 times. Of course he can, like his labourer, take to 
work himself, participate directly in the process of production, 
but he is then only a hybrid between capitalist and labourer, a 
"small master." A certain stage of .capitalist production ne 
cessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the 
time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e., as personi 
fied capital, to the appropriation and therefore control of the 
labour of others, and to the selling of the products of this la 
bour. 1 The guilds of the middle ages therefore tried to 
prevent by force the transformation of the master of a trade 
into a capitalist, by limiting the number of labourers that could 
be employed by one master within a very small maximum. 
The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a 
capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced 
for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle 
ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of 

1 "The farmer cannot rely on his own labour, and if he does, I will maintain that 
he is a loser by it. His employment should be a general attention to the whole: his 
thresher must be watched, or he will soon lose his wages in corn not threshed out; 
his mowers, reapers, &c., must be looked after; he must constantly go round his 
fences; he must see there is no neglect; which would be the case if he was confined 
to any one spot." ("An Inquiry into the connection between the Price of Provisions 
and the Size of Farms, &c. By a Farmer." London, 1773, p. 12.) This book ia 
very interesting. In it the genesis of the "capitalist farmer" or "merchant farmer," 
as he is explicitly called, may be studied, and his self-glorification at the expense 
of the small farmer who has only to do with bare subsistence, be noted. "The class 
of capitalists are from the first partially, and they become ultimately completely, 
discharged from the necessity of the manual labour." ("Text-book of Lectures on 
the Political Economy of Nations. By the Rev. Richard Jones." Hertford, 185S. 
Lecture III. p. 39.) 


338 Capitalist Production. 

the law discovered by Hegel (in his "Logic"), that merelj 
quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into quali 
tative changes. 1 

The minimum of the sum of value that the individual pos 
sessor of money or commodities must command, in order to 
metamorphose himself into a capitalist, changes with the dif 
ferent stages of development of capitalist production, and is 
at given stages different in different spheres of production, 
according to their special and technical conditions. Certain 
spheres of production demand, even at the very outset of capi 
talist production, a minimum of capital that is not as yet 
found in the hands of single individuals. This gives rise 
partly to state subsidies to private persons, as in France in the 
time of Colbert, and as in many German states up to our own 
epoch ; partly to the formation of societies with legal monopoly 
for the exploitation of certain branches of industry and com 
merce, the fore-runners of our own modern joint-stock com 
panies. 2 

Within the process of production, as we have seen, capital 
acquired the command over labour, i. e. f over functioning la 
bouring-power or the labourer himself. Personified capital, 
the capitalist takes care that the labourer does his work regu 
larly and with the proper degree of intensity. 

Capital further developed into a coercive relation, which 
compels the working class to do more work than the narrow 
round of its own life-wants prescribes. As a producer of the 
activity of others, as a pumper-out of surplus-labour and ex 
ploiter of labour-power, it surpasses in energy, disregard of 

1 The molecular theory of modern chemistry first scientifically worked out by 
Laurent and Gerhardt rests on no other law. (Addition to 3rd Edition.) For the 
explanation of this statement, which is not very clear to non-chemists, we remark that 
the author speaks here of the homologous series of carbon compounds, first so named 
by C. Gerhardt in 1843, each series of which has its own general algebraic formula. 
Thus the series of paraffins: Cn H*n-}-*, that of the normal alcohols: Cn H*n-f*O; 
of the normal fatty acids: Cn H 2 n O* and many others. In the above examples, by 
the simply quantitative addition of C H* to the molecular formula, a qualitatively 
different body is each time formed. On the share (overestimated by Marx) of 
Laurent and Jerhardt in the determination of this important fact see Kopp, "Ent- 
wicklung der Chemie." Miinchen, 1873, pp. 709, 716, and Schorlemmer, "Rise and 
Progress of Organic Chemistry." London, 1879, p. 64. Ed. 

Martin Luther calls these kinds of institutions: "The Company Monopolia. M 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 339 

bounds, recklessness and efficiency, all earlier systems of pro 
duction based on directly compulsory labour. 

At first, capital subordinates labour on the basis of the tech 
nical conditions in which it historically finds it. It does not, 
therefore, change immediately the mode of production. The 
production of surplus-value in the form hitherto considered 
by us by means of simple extension of the working-day, 
proved, therefore, .c be independent of any change in the 
mode of producti a itself. It was not less active in the old- 
fashioned bakeries ;h: . in the modern cotton factories. 

If we consider tin process of production from the point of 
view of the simple labor, r-process, the labourer stands in rela 
tion to the means of production, not in their quality as capital, 
but as the mere means and material of his own intelligent pro 
ductive activity. In tanning, e. g., he deals with the skins as 
his simple object of labour. It is not the capitalist whose skin 
he tans. But it is different as soon as we deal with the process 
of production from the point of view of the process of creation 
of surplus-value. The means of production are at once 
changed into means for the absorption of the labour of others. 
It is now no longer the labourer that employes the means of 
production, but the means of production that employ the la 
bourer. Instead of being consumed by him as material ele 
ments of his productive activity, they consume him as the 
ferment necessary to their own life-process, and the life-process 
of capital consists only in its movement as value constantly 
expanding, constantly multiplying itself. Furnaces and work 
shops that stand idle by night, and absorb no living labour, are 
"a mere loss" to the capitalist. Hence, furnaces and work 
shops constitute lawful claims upon the night-labour of the 
workpeople. The simple transformation of money into the 
material factors of the process of production, into means of 
production, transforms the latter into a title and a right to the 
labour and surplus-labour of others. An example will show, 
In conclusion, how this sophistication, peculiar to and charac 
teristic of capitalist production, this complete inversion of the 
relation between dead and living labour, between value and 

34 Capitalist Production. 

the force that creates value, mirrors itself in the consciousness 
of capitalists. During the revolt of the English factory lords 
between 1848 and 1850, "the head of one of the oldest and 
most respectable houses in the West of Scotland, Messrs. Car- 
lile Sons & Co., of the linen and cotton thread factory at Pais 
ley, a company which has now existed for about a century, 
which was in operation in 1752, and four generations of the 
same family have conducted it" . . . this "very intelli 
gent gentleman" then wrote a letter * in the "Glasgow Daily 
Mail" of April 25th, 1849, with the title, "The relay system/ 
in which among other things the following grotesquely nai vs 
passage occurs: "Let us now . . . see what evils will 
attend the limiting to 10 hours the working of the factory. 
They amount to the most serious damage to the mill- 
owner s prospects and property. If he (i. e., his "hands") 
worked 12 hours before, and is limited to 10, then every 1 } 
machines or spindles in his establishment shrink to 10, and 
should the works be disposed of, they will be valued only as 10, 
so that a sixth part would thus be deducted from the value o:: 
every factory in the country." 2 

To this West of Scotland bourgeois brain, inheriting thd 
accumulated capitalistic qualities of "four generations," the 
value of the means of production, spindles, &c. is so insepar 
ably mixed up with their property, as capital, to expand their 
own value, and to swallow up daily a definite quantity of the 
unpaid labour of others, that the head of the firm of Carlile & 
Co. actually imagines that if he sells his factory, not only will 
the value of the spindles be paid to him, but, in addition, their 
power of annexing surplus-value, not only the labour which is 
embodied in them, and is necessary to the production of spin 
dles of this kind, but also the surplus-labour which they help 

1 Reports of Insp. of Fact ; , April SOth, 1849, p. 69. 

*1. c., p. 60. Factory Inspector Stuart, himself a Scotchman, and in contrast to 
the English Factory Inspectors, quite taken captive by the capitalistic method of 
thinking, remarks expressly on this letter which he incorporates in his report that it 
is "the most useful of the communications which any of the factory-owners working 
with relays have given to those engaged in the same trade, and which is the most 
calculated to remove the prejudices of such of them as have scruples respecting any 
change of the arrangement of the hours of work," 

Rate and Mass of Surplus Value. 341 

to pump out daily from the brave Scots of Paisley, and for 
that very reason he thinks that with the shortening of the 
working-day by 2 hours, the selling-price of 12 spinning ma 
chines dwindles to that of 10 1 




THAT portion of the working-day which merely produces ar 
equivalent for the value paid by the capitalist for his labour 
power, has, up to this point, been treated by us as a constant 
magnitude; and such in fact it is, under given conditions of 
production and at a given stage in the economical develop 
ment of society. Beyond this, his necessary labour-time, 
the labourer, we saw, could continue to work for 2, 3, 4, 
6, &c., hours. The rate of surplus-value and the length of the 
working day depended on the magnitude of this prolongation. 
Though the necessary labour-time was constant, we saw, on 
the other hand, that the total working-day was variable. 
Now suppose we have a working-day whose length, and whose 
apportionment between necessary labour and surplus-labour, 
are given. Let the whole line a c, a b c, repre 
sent, for example, a working-day of 12 hours; the portion of 
a b 10 hours of necessary labour, and the portion b c 2 hours 
of surplus-labour. How now can the production of surplus- 
/ value be increased, i.e., how can the surplus-labour be pro- 
\/ longed, without, or independently of, any prolongation of a c ? 
Although the lengh of a c is given, b c appears to be capable 
of prolongation, if not by extension beyond its end c, which is 
also the end of the working day a c, yet, at all events, by push 
ing back its starting point b in the direction of a. Assume 
that b b in the line, a b b c is equal to half of b c 
a-- b 1 


The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value. 343 

or to one hour s labour- time. If now, in a c, the working day 
of 12 hours ; we move the point b to b , b c becomes b c ; the 
surplus-labour increases by one-half, from 2 hours to 3 hours, 
although the working day remains as before at 12 hours. 
This extension of the surplus labour-time from b c to b c, 
from 2 hours to 3 hours, is, however, evidently impossible, 
without a simultaneous contraction of the necessary labour- 
time from a b into a b , from 10 hours to 9 hours. The pro-/ 
longation of the surplus-labour would correspond to a shorten- \ 
ing of the necessary labour; or a portion of the labour-time 
previously consumed, in reality, for the labourer s own bene 
fit, would be converted into labour-time for the benefit of the 
capitalist. There would be an alteration, not in the length 
of the working day, but in its division into necessary labour- 
time and surplus labour-time. 

On the other hand, it is evident that the duration of the/ 
surplus-labour is given, when the length of the working day>/ 

and the value of labour-power, are given. The value of la-^ 

power, determines the labour-time necessary for the repro^ 

hour-power, i.e., the labour-time requisite to produce labou 

duction of that value. If one working hour be embodied in 
sixpence, and the value of a day s labour-power be five shill 
ings, the labourer must work 10 hours a day, in order to re 
place the value paid by capital for his labour-power, or to 
produce an equivalent for the value of his daily necessary 
means of subsistence. Given the value of these means of sub 
sistence, the value of his labour-power is given; l and given \ 
the value of his labour-power, the duration of his necessary 
bour-time is given. The duration of the surplus-labour, 

1 The value of his average daily wages is determined by what the labourer requires 
"so as to live, labour, and generate." (Wm. Petty: "Political Anatomy of Ireland," 
1672, p. 64.) "The price of Labour is always constituted of the price of necessaries 
. . . whenever . . . the labouring man s wages will not, suitably to his low 
rank and station, as a labouring man, support such a family as is often the lot of 
many of them to have," he does not receive proper wages. (J. Vanderlint, 1. c. p. 
15.) "Le simple ouvrier, qui n a que ses bras et son Industrie, n a rien qn autant 
qu U parvient a vendre a d autres sa peine. ... En tout genre de travail il doit 
arriver, et il arrive en effet, que le salaire de 1 ouvrier se borne a ce qui lui est nce- 
taire pour lui procurer sa substance." (Turgot, Reflexions, &c., Oeuvres ed. Daire t. 
I. p. 10). "The price of the necessaries of life is, in fact, the cost of producin| 
labour." (Malthus, Inquiry into, &c., Rent, London, 1815, p. 48 note). 

344 Capitalist Production. 

ever, is arrived at, by subtracting the necessary labour-tiirm 
from the total working day. Ten hours subtracted from 

^twelve, leave two, and it is not easy to see, how, under the 
^given conditions, the surplus-labour can possibly be prolonged 
beyond two hours. Xo doubt, the capitalist can, instead of 
five shillings, pay the labourer four shillings and sixpence or 
even less. For the reproduction of this value of four shill 
ings and sixpence, nine hours labour-time would suffice ; and 
consequently three hours of surplus-labour, instead of two, 
would accrue to the capitalist, and the surplus-value would 
from one shilling to eighteenpence. This result, however, 
^^Would be obtained only by lowering the wages of the labourer 

, below the value of his labour-power. With the four shillings 
and sixpence which he produces in nine hours, he commands 
one-tenth less of the necessaries of life than before, and conse 
quently the proper reproduction of his labour-power is crip- 
pled. The surplus-labour would in this case be prolonged 
only by an overstepping of its normal limits ; its domai i 

^Tvould be extended only by a usurpation of part of the domai i 
of necessary labour-time. Despite the important part whiei 
this method plays in actual practice, we are excluded frori 
considering it in this place, by our assumption, that all com- 

y modities, including labour-power, are bought and sold at their 
full value. Granted this, it follows that the labour-time nec 
essary for the production of labour-power, or for the reproduc 
tion of its value, cannot be lessened by a fall in the labourer ,* 
wages below the value of his labour-power, but only by a fall 
in this value itself. Given the length of the working day, tho 
prolongation of the surplus-labour must of necessity originate 
in the curtailment of the necessary labour-time ; the latter 
cannot arise from the former. In the example we have taken, 

/it is necessary that the value of labour-power should actually 
fall by one-tenth, in order that the necessary labour-time may 
be diminished by one-tenth, i.e., from ten hours to nine, and 
in order that the surplus-labour may consequently be pro 
longed from two hours to three. 

\j Such a fall in the value of labour-power implies, however, 
that the same necessaries of life which were formerly pro- 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 345 

duced in ten hours, can now be produced in nine hours. But v 
this is impossible without an increase in the productiveness of v 
labour. For example, suppose a shoemaker, with given tools, 
makes in one working day of twelve hours, one pair of boots. 
If he must make two pairs in the same time, the productive 
ness of his labour must be doubled ; and this cannot be done, 
except by an alteration in his tools or in his mode of working, u^ 
or in both. Hence, the conditions of production, i.e., his \y 
node of production, and the labour-process itself, must be V 
revolutionised. By increase in the productiveness of labour, > 
we mean, generally, an alteration in the labour-process, of ^ 
cuch i\ kind as to shorten the labour-time socially necessary for </ 
\..3 production of a commodity, and to endow a given quantity^ 

< c labour with the power of producing a greater quantity of - 
use-value. 1 Hitherto in treating of surplus-value, arising" 
from a simple prolongation of the working day, we have as 
sumed the mode of production to be given and invariable. 
But when surplus-value has to be produced by the conversion 

< i necessary labour into surplus-labour, it by no means suffices 
for capital to take over the labour-process in the form under 
which it has been liistoricallv handed down, and then simply 

*r / 

to prolong Lhe duration of that process. The technical and so- v 
cial conditions of Jhe jMLQQeas, and consequently the very mode v^ 
of production must be revolutionised, l>efore the productive 
ness of labour can be increased. By that means al<>m>. can thr 
value of labour- power be made to sink, and the portion of the^ 
working day necessary for the reproduction of that value, bey 

The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working 
day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the ^ 
surplus-value arising from the curtailment of the necessary^ 
labour-time, and from the corresponding alteration in the re- v 
speetive lengths of the two components of the working day, 
call relative surplus-value. 

1 "Quando si perfezionano le arti, che non e altro cbe la scoperta di nuove vie, 
onde si possa compierc una manufattura con meno gente o (che e lo stesso) in minor 
tempo di prima." (Galiani 1. c. p. 159.) "L conomie sur les frais de production 
ne peut done etre autre chose que 1 ^conomie sur la quantit de travail employ^ pour 
produire." (Sismondi, Etudes t. I. p. 22.) 

346 Capitalist Production. 

In order to effect a fall in the value of labour-power, the in 
crease in the productiveness of labour must seize upon those 
branches of industry ; whose products determine the value of 
labour-power, and consequently either belong to the class of 
customary means of subsistence, or are capable of supplying 
the place of those means. But the value of a commodity is 
determined, not only by the quantity of labour which the la 
bourer directly bestows upon that commodity, but also by the 
labour contained in the means of production. For instance, 
the value of a pair of boots depends, not only on the cobbler s 
.labour, but also on the value of the leather, wax, thread, &c. 
Hence, a fall in the value of labour-power is also brought about 
- by an increase in the productiveness of labour, and by a cor- 
v./responding cheapening of commodities in those industries 
^ which supply the instruments of labour and the raw material, 
that form the material elements of the constant capital re 
quired for producing the necessaries of life. But an increase, 
in the productiveness of labour in those branches of industry 
which supply neither the necessaries of life, nor the means oi 
production for such necessaries, leaves the value of labour- 
power undisturbed. 

The cheapened commodity, of course, causes only a prc 
tanto fall in the value of labour-power, a fall proportional tc 
the extent of that commodity s employment in the reproduc 
tion of labour-power. Shirts, for instance, are a necessary 
means of subsistence, but are only one out of many. The 
j totality of the necessaries of life consists, however, of various 
J commodities, each the product of a distinct industry ; and the 
value of each of those commodities enters as a component part 
v into the value of labour-power. This latter value decreases 
with the decrease of the labour-time necessary for its reproduc 
tion ; the total decrease being the sum of all the different cur- 
J tailments of labour-time effected in those various and distinct 
industries. This general result is treated, here, as if it were 
the immediate result directly aimed at in each individual case. 
Whenever an individual capitalist cheapens shirts, for in 
stance, by increasing the productiveness of labour, he by no 
means necessarily aims at reducing the value of labour-power 

The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value. 347 

and shortening, pro tanto, the necessary labour-time. But it 
is only in so far as he ultimately contributes to this result, 
that he assists in raising the general rate of surplus-value. 1 
The general and necessary tendencies of capital must be dis 
tinguished from their forms of manifestation. 

It is not our intention to consider, here, the way in which 
the laws, immanent in capitalist production, manifest them 
selves in the movements of individual masses of capital, where i 
they assert themselves as coercive laws of competition, and are 
brought home to the mind and consciousness of the individual 
capitalist as the directing motives of his operations. But this 
much is clear ; a scientific analysis of competition is not possi 
ble, before we have a conception of the inner nature of capital, 
just as the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies are not 
intelligible to any but him, who is acquainted with their real 
motions, motions which are not directly perceptible by the 
senses. Nevertheless, for the better comprehension of the 
production of relative surplus-value, we may add the follow 
ing remarks, in which we assume nothing more than the re 
sults we have already obtained. 

If one hour s labour is embodied in sixpence, a value of six 
shillings will be produced in a working day of 12 hours. 
Suppose, that with the prevailing productiveness of labour, 12 
articles are produced in these 12 hours. Let the value of the 
means of production used in each article be sixpence. Under 
these circumstances, each article costs one shilling: sixpence 
for the value of the means of production, and sixpence for the 
value newly added in working with those means. Now let 
some one capitalist contrive to double the productiveness of v 
labour, and to produce in the working day of 12 hours, 24 in-^ 
stead of 12 such articles. The value of the means of produce 
tion remaining the same, the value of each article will fall to>/ 
ninepence, made up of sixpence for the value of the means of ^ 
production and threepence for the value newly added by the^ 
labour. Despite the doubled productiveness of labour, the v 

1 "Let us suppose ... the products ... of the manufacturer are doubled 
by improvement in machinery ... he will be able to clothe his workmen by 
means of a smaller proportion of the entire return . . . and thus his profit will 
be raised. But in no other way will it be influenced." (Ramsay, 1. c. p. 168, 169.) 

348 Capitalist Production. 

day s labour creates, as before, a new value of six shillings and 
no more, which, however, is now spread over twice as many 
articles. Of this value each article now has embodied in it 
j^-th, instead of-^-th, threepence instead of sixpence; or, what 
amounts to the same thing, only half an hour s instead of a 
whole hour s labour-time, is now added to the means of pro 
duction while they are being transformed into each article. 
,/The individual value of these articles is now below their social 
value; in other words, they have cost less labour-time than 
the great bulk of the same article produced under the average 

social conditions. Each article costs, on an average, one shill 
ing, and represents 2 hours of social labour; but -under the 
altered mode of production it costs only ninepence, or contains 
only 1J hours labour. The real value of a commodity is, 

^however, not its individual value, but its social value; that is 
to say, the real value is not measured by the labour-time that 
the article in each individual case costs the producer, but by 
the labour-time socially required for its production. If there 
fore, the capitalist who applies the new method, sells his com 
modity at its social value of one shilling, he sells it for three 
pence above its individual value, and thus realises an extra 
surplus-value of threepence. On the other hand, the working 
day of 12 hours is, as regards him, now represented by 24 arti- 
/ cles instead of 12. Hence, in order to get rid of the product 

* of one working day, the demand must be double what it was, 
i.e., the market must become twice as extensive. Other things 

J )being equal, his commodities can command a more extended 
v market only by a diminution of their prices. He will there 
fore sell them above their individual but under their social 
Rvalue, say at tenpence each. By this means he still squeezes 
an extra surplus-value of one penny out of each. This aug 
mentation of surplus-value is pocketed by him, whether his 
commodities belong or not to the class of necessary means of 
subsistence that participate in determining the general value 
of labour-power. Hence, independently of this latter circum- 
J stance, there is a motive for each individual capitalist to 
^ cheapen his commodities, by increasing the productiveness of 
V labour. 

The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value. 349 

Nevertheless, even in this case, the increased production of 
surplus-value arises from the curtailment of the necessary 
labour-time, and from the corresponding prolongation of the 
surplus-labour. 1 Let the necessary labour-time amount to 10 
hours, the value of a day s labour-power to five shillings, the 
surplus labour-time to 2 hours, and the daily surplus-value to 
one shilling. But the capitalist now produces 24 articles, 
which he sells at tenpence a-piece, making twenty shillings in 
all. Since the value of the means of production is twelve 
shillings, 14f of these articles merely replace the constant 
capital advanced. The labour of the 12 hours working day 
is represented by the remaining 9| articles. Since the price 
of the labour power is five shillings, 6 articles represent the 
necessary labour-time, and 3J articles the surplus-labour. 
The ratio of the necessary labour to the surplus-labour, which 
under average social conditions was 5 : 1, is now only 5 : 3. 
The same result may be arrived at in the following way. The 
value of the product of the working day of 12 hours is twenty 
shillings. Of this sum, twelve shillings belong to the value 
of the means of production, a value that merely re-appears. 
There remain eight shillings, which are the expression in 
money, of the value newly created during the working day. 
This sum is greater than the sum in which average social 
labour of the same kind is expressed: twelve hours of the 
latter labour are expressed by six shillings only. The excep 
tionally productive labour operates as intensified labour; it 
creates in equal periods of time greater values than average 
social labour of the same kind. (See Ch. I. Sect. 1. p. 45.) 
But our capitalist still continues to pay as before only five 
shillings as the value of a day s labour-power. Hence, instead 
of 10 hours, the labourer need now work only 7 hours, in 
order to re-produce this value. His surplus-labour is, there 
fore, increased 2f hours, and the surplus-value he produces 

1 "A man s profit does not depend upon his command of the produce of other men * 
labour, but upon his command of labour itself. If be can sell his goods at a higher 
price, while his workmen s wages remain unaltered, he is clearly benefited. . . . 
A smaller proportion of what he produces is sufficient to put that labour into mo- 
uor;, and a larger proportion consequently remains for himself." ("Outline* of 
Pol. Econ." London, 1832, pp. 49, 50.) 

55O Capitalist Production. 

grows from one, into three shillings. Hence, the capitalist 
who applies the improved method of production appropriates 
to surplus-labour a greater portion of the working day, than 
the other capitalists in the same trade. He does individually, 
what the whole body of capitalists engaged in producing rela 
tive surplus-value, do collectively. On the other hand, how 
ever, this extra surplus-value vanishes, so soon as the new 
method of production has become general and has consequently 
caused the difference between the individual value of tHe 
cheapened commodity and its social value to vanish. The law 
of the determination of value by labour-time, a law which 
brings under its sway the individual capitalist who applies 
the new method of production, by compelling him to sell his 
goods under their social value, this same law, acting as a co 
ercive law of competition, forces his competitors to adopt the 
new method. 1 The general rate of surplus-value is, therefore, 
ultimately affected by the whole process, only when the in 
crease in the productiveness of labour, has seized upon those 
branches of production that are connected with, and has 
cheapened those commodities that form part of, the necessary 
means of subsistence, and are therefore elements of the value 
of labour-power. 

The value of commodities is in inverse ratio to the produc 
tiveness of labour. And so, too, is the value of labour-power, 
because it depends on the values of commodities. Relative 
surplus-value is, on the contrary, directly proportional to that 
productiveness. It rises with rising and falls with falling 
productiveness. The value of money being assumed to be 
I constant, an average social working day of 12 hours always 
produces the same new value, six shillings, no matter how this 

.sum may be apportioned between surplus- value and wages. 
But if, in consequence of increased productiveness, the value 

_jof the necessaries of life fall, and the value of a day s labour- 

1 "If my neighbour by doing much with Httle labour, can sell cheap, I must con 
trive to sell as cheap as he. So that every art, trade, or engine, doing work with 
labour of fewer hands, and consequently cheaper, begets in others a kind of necessity 
and emulation, either of using the same art, trade, or engine, or of inventing some 
thing like it, that every man may b upon the square, that no man may be able to 
undersell his neighbour." ("The Advantage* of the East India Trade to England." 
London, 1720, p.. 67.) 

The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value. 351 

power be thereby reduced from five shillings to three, the sur- ! 
plus-value increases from one shilling to three. Ten hours 
were necessary for the reproduction of the value of the labour- 
power; now only six are required. Four hours have been set 
free, and can be annexed to the domain of surplus-labour. 
Hence there is immanent in capital an inclination and con 
stant tendency, to heighten the productiveness of labour, in 
order to cheapen commodities, and by such cheapening to 
cheapen the labourer himself. 1 

The value of a commodity is, in itself, of no interest to the 
capitalist. What alone interests him, is the surplus-value that 
dwells in it, and is realisable by sale. Realisation of the sur 
plus-value necessarily carries with it the refunding of the 
value that was advanced. Now, since relative surplus-value 
increases in direct proportion to the development of the pro 
ductiveness of labour, while, on the other hand, the value of 
commodities diminishes in the same proportion ; since one and 
the same process cheapens commodities, and augments the sur-\A 
plus-value contained in them ; we have here the solution of the ^ 
riddle: why does the capitalist, whose sole concern is the pro 
duction of exchange-value, continually strive to depress the 
exchange-value of commodities ? A. riddle with which Ques- V 
nay, one of the founders of political economy, tormented his 
opponents, and to which they could give him no answer. 
"You acknowledge," he says, "that the more expenses and the 
cost of labour can, in the manufacture of industrial products, 
be reduced without injury to production, the more advantage 
ous is such reduction, because it diminishes the price of the 
finished article. And yet, you believe that the production of 
wealth, which arises from the labour of the workpeople, con- 

1 "In whatever proportion the expenses of a labourer are diminished, in the same 
proportion will his wages be diminished, if the restraints upon industry are at the 
same time taken off." ("Considerations concerning taking off of the Bounty on Corn 
Exported," &c., Lend, 1753, p. 7.) "The interest of trade requires, that corn and all 
provisions should be as cheap as possible; for whatever makes them dear, must make 
labour dear also ... in all countries where industry is not restrained the price 
of provisions must affect the price of labour. This will always be diminished when 
the necessaries of life grow cheaper." (1. c. p. 8.) "Wages are decreased in the 
same proportion as the powers of production increase. Machinery, it is true, cheap 
ens the necessaries of life, but it also cheapens the labourer." ("A Prire Essay on 
the Comparative Merits of Competition and Co-operation." London, 1834, p. 27.) 

35* Capitalist Production. 

sists in the augmentation of the exchange- value of their 
products." 1 

The shortening of the working day is, therefore, bj IK) 
means what is aimed at, in capitalist production, when labour 
is economised by increasing its productiveness, 2 It is only 
the shortening of the labour-time, necessary for the production 
of a definite quantity of commodities, that is aimed at. lie 
fact that, the workman, when the productiveness of his labour 
has been increased, produces, say 10 times as many commodi 
ties as before, and thus spends one-tenth as much labour-tine 
on each, by no means prevents him from continuing to work 1 2 
hours as before, nor from producing in those 12 hours 1200 
articles instead of 120. Xay, more, his working day may te 
prolonged at the same time, so as to make him produce, say 
1400 articles in 14 hours. In the treatises, therefore, cf 
economists of the stamp of MacCulloch, Ure, Senior, and tut i 
quanti, we may read upon one page, that the labourer owes a 
debt of gratitude to capital for developing his product ivenes . 
because the necessary labour-time is thereby shortened, and 01 
the next page, that he must prove his gratitude by working ii 
future for 15 hours instead of 10. The object of all develop 
ment of the productiveness of labour, within the limits of 
capitalist production, is to shorten that part of the working 
day, during which the workman must labour for his own bene 
fit, and by that very shortening, to lengthen the other pan of 
the day. during which he is at liberty to work gratis for th* 
capitalist. How far this result is also attainable, without 
cheapening commodities, will appear from an examination of 

1 "Ils umnmariU <roe plus oo peat, sans prejudice, epargner de frats oo dc tramx 

- : . ~ - j. :. 7 . ; . M Ml : - ~ i : * : z, ". : f-sr ? _ 5 : r : r f r 2 r ~. ; f s r r - 
Stable par la iliMUHinn des prix de tea magi*. Ofieilaal Us croient quc la pr<> 
dvctm de liik-nw qai resolte des traraux dea artisans coosiste dans ranfBMBtatioi 
de la raleor renale de lean otrrrase*. " (Qoeanar : *DiafafCB wr le Cnaairii i t 
Far ks Traranx des artisans,- pp. 1S, 199.) 

* ~Ces *f* !!! si ecoootaes du trarafl des aikr qn H faodrah qu Hs pa? - 
assent." (J- N. "Bidaat: *T>u Monopole qui fitM* dans ks arts ilMliiil r 
::---:?. PUfa, UH r II I( ::-- - b i " > &C MfCtd M 
i i rmnmmt tone mi laboor.- (Duald Stewart: Works ed. by Sir W. Hamiltoc. 
Ediaborsn, T. riiL. 1S*5. Lecmre on Poiit. Econ-, p. Sit.) "Tbeir (ibe i. ^ikilistf > 

tkat (fee froduciiie peters of tbe labourers they pJoy sboold be rtt 
poasibie. OB proaotiaf that pgwtr their atteatioo is fixed aad a!ara* r 
fixed." (R. T<m: L e. Lecture HI.) 

Lo-Operation. 353 

the particular modes o* producing relative surplus-value, to 
which examination we now proceed. 



CAPITALIST production only then really begins, as we have 
already seen, when each individual capital employs simultane 
ously a comparatively large number of labourers ; when conse 
quently the labour-process is carried on on an extensive scale 
and yields, relatively, large quantities of products. A greater 
number of labourers working together, at the same time, in - 
one place (or, if you wiR, in the same field of labour), in v 
order to produce the same sort of commodity under the master- 
ship of one capitalist, constitutes, both historically and logi-" 
cally, the starting point of capitalist production. With regard v 
to the mode of production itself, manufacture, in its strict v 
meaning, is hardly to be distinguished, in its earliest stages, y 
from the handicraft trades of the guilds, otherwise than by the 
greater number of workmen simultaneously employed by one 
and the same individual capital. The workshop of the v - 
mediaeval master handicraftsman is simply enlarged. 

At first, therefore, the difference is purely quantitative.^ 
We have shown that the surplus-value produced by a given 
capital is equal to the surplus-value produced by each work 
man multiplied by the number of workmen simultaneously em 
ployed. The number of workmen in itself does not affect, ^ 
either the rate of surplus-value, or the degree of exploitation v 
of labour-power. If a working day of 12 hours be embodied 
in six shillings, 1200 such days will be embodied in 1200 
times 6 shillings. In one case 12X1200 working hours, and 
in the other 12 such hours are incorporated in the product 
In the production of value a number of workmen rank merely 
as so maiy individual workmen; and it therefore makes no 
difference in the value produced whether the 1200 men work 

separate] or united under the control of one capitalist. 


354 Capitalist Production. 

Nevertheless, within certain limits, a modification takes 
place. The labour realised in value, is labour of an average 
social quality; is consequently the expenditure of average 
labour-power. Any average magnitude, however, is merely 
the average of a number of separate magnitudes all of one 
kind, but differing as to quantity. In every industry, each 
individual labourer, be he Peter or Paul ; differs from the 
average labourer. These individual differences, or "errors * 
as they are called in mathematics, compensate one another, 
and vanish, whenever a certain minimum number of workmen 
are employed together. The celebrated sophist and syco 
phant, Edmund Burke, goes so far as to make the following 
assertion, based on his practical observations as a farmer; 
viz., that "in so small a platoon" as that of five farm labour 
ers, all individual differences in the labour vanish, and that 
consequently any given five adult farm labourers taken to 
gether, will in the same time do as much work as any other 
five. 1 But, however that may be, it is clear, that the collec 
tive working day of a large number of workmen simultane 
ously employed, divided by the number of these workmen, 
gives one day of average social labour. For example, let the 
working day of each individual be 12 hours. Then the collect 
ive working day of 12 men simultaneously employed, consists 
of 144 hours ; and although the labour of each of the dozen 
men may deviate more or less from average social labour, each 
of them requiring a different time for the same operation, yet 
since the working day of each is one-twelfth of the collective 
working day of 144 hours, it possesses the qualities of an aver- oial working day. From the point of view, however, 
of the capitalist who employs these 12 men, the working day 
is that of the whole dozen. Each individual man s day is 

^ Unquestionably, there 5s a good deal of difference between the value of one 
man s labour and that of another from strength, dexterity, and honest application. 
But I am quite sure, from my best observation, that any given five men will, in their 
total, afford a proportion of labour equal to any other five within the periods of life 
I have stated; that is, that among such five men there will be one possessing all the 
qualifications of a good workman, one bad, and the other three middling, and ap 
proximating to the first and the last So that in so small a platoon as that of even 
five, you will find the full complement of all that five men can earn." (E. Burke, L 
e. p. 15, 16). Compare Quetelet on the average individual. 

Co-Operation. 355 

an aliquot part of the collective working day, no matter 
whether the 12 men assist one another in their work, or 
whether the connexion between their operations consists mere 
ly in the fact, that the men are all working for the same capi 
talist. But if the 12 men are employed in six pairs, by as 
many different small masters, it will be quite a matter of 
chance, whether each of these masters produces the same value, 
and consequently whether he realises the general rate of sur 
plus-value. Deviations would occur in individual cases. If 
one workman required considerably more time for the produc 
tion of a commodity than is socially necessary, the duration of 
the necessary labour-time would, in his case, sensibly deviate 
from the labour-time socially necessary on an average; and 
consequently his labour would not count as average labour, nor 
his labour-power as average labour-power. It would either 
be not saleable at all, or only at something below the average 
value of labour-power. A fixed minimum of efficiency in all 
labour is therefore assumed, and we shall see, later on, that 
capitalist production provides the means of fixing this mini 
mum. ISTevertheless, this minimum deviates from the aver 
age, although on the other hand the capitalist has to pay the 
average value of labour-power. Of the six small masters, one 
would therefore squeeze out more than the average rate of 
surplus-value, another less. The inequalities would be com 
pensated for the society at large, but not for the individual 
masters. Thus the laws of the production of ^.alue are only 
fully realised for the individual producer, wliev be produces 
as a capitalist, and employes a number of workmen together, 
whose labour, by its collective nature, is at onw stamped as 
average social labour. 1 

Even without an alteration in the system of working, the 
simultaneous employment of a large number of labourers 
effects a revolution in the material conditions of the labour- 
process. The buildings in which they work, the store-houses 

1 Professor Roscher claims to have discovered that one needlewoman employed by 
Mrs. Roscher during two days, does more work than two needlewomen employed 
together during one day. The learned professor should not study the capitalist proc 
ess of production in the nursery, nor under circumstances where the principal per 
sonage, the capitalist, is wanting. 

356 Capitalist Production. 

for the raw material, the implements and utensils used simul 
taneously or in turns by the workmen ; in short, a portion of 
the means of production, are now consumed in common. On 
the one hand, the exchange-value of these means of production 
is not increased ; for the exchange value of a commodity is not 
raised by its use-value being consumed more thoroughly and to 
greater advantage. On the other hand, they are used in com 
mon, and therefore on a larger scale than before. A room 
where twenty weavers work at twenty looms must be larger 
than the room of a single weaver with two assistants. But it 
costs less labour to build one workshop for twenty persons 
than to build ten to accommodate two weavers each; thus the 
value of the means of production that are concentrated for use 

v in common on a large scale does not increase in direct propor- 

v tion to the expansion and to the increased useful effect of 
those means. When consumed in common, they give up a 
smaller part of their value to each single product; partly be 
cause the total value they part with is spread over a greater 
quantity of products, and partly because their value, though 
absolutely greater, is, having regard to their sphere of action 
in the process, relatively less than the value of isolated means 
of production. Owing to this, the value of a part of the con 
stant capital falls, and in proportion to the magnitude of the 

- fall, the total value of the commodity also falls. The effect is 
the same as if the means of production had cost less. The 

y economy in their application is entirely owing to their being 
consumed in common by a large number of workmen. More 
over, this character of being necessary conditions of social 
labour, a character that distinguishes them from the dispersed 
and relatively more costly means of production of isolated, in 
dependent labourers, or small masters, is acquired even wher 
the numerous workmen assembled together do not assist one 
another, but merely work side by side. A portion of the- 
instruments of labour acquires this social character before the 
labour-process itself does so. 

Economy in the use of the means of production has to b<> 
considered under two aspects. First, as cheapening commodi- 
ties, and thereby bringing about a fall in the value of labour* 

Co-Operation. 357 

power. Secondly, as altering the ratio of the surplus-value ta, 
the total capital advanced, -Le. f to the sum of the values of the 
constant and variable capital. The latter aspect will not be~- 
considered until we come to the third volume, to which, with 
the object of treating them in their proper connexion, we also 
relegate many other points that relate to the present question. 
The march of our analysis compels this splitting up of the 
subject matter, a splitting up that is quite in keeping with the 
spirit of capitalist production. For since, in this mode of pro 
duction, the workman finds the instruments of labour existing 
independently of him as another man s property, economy in 
their use appears, with regard to him, to be a distinct operation, 
one that does not concern him, and which, therefore, has no 
connexion with the methods by which his own personal pro 
ductiveness is increased. 

When numerous labourers work together side by side, 
whether in one and the same process, or in different but con-v/ 
nected processes, they are said to co-operate, or to work in co-/ 
operation. 1 

Just as the offensive power of a squadron of cavalry, or the 
defensive power of a regiment of infantry, is essentially differ 
ent from the sum of the offensive or defensive powers of the 
individual cavalry or infantry soldiers taken separately, so 
the sum total of the mechanical forces exerted by isolated / 
workmen differs from the social force that is developed, whenv/ 
many hands take part simultaneously in one and the same un-^ 
divided operation, such as raising a heavy weight, turning a^ 
winch, or removing an obstacle. 2 In such cases the effect of 
the combined labour could either not be produced at all by 
isolated individual labour, or it could only be produced by a 
great expenditure of time, or on a very dwarfed scale. Not 
only have we here an increase in the productive power of the ^ 

1 "Concourg de forces." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c., p. 78.) 

1 "There are numerous operations of so simple a kind as not to admit a division 
into parts, which cannot be performed without the co-operation of many pairs of 
hands. I woul<} instance the lifting of a large tree on to a wain . . . every 
thing, in short, which cannot be done unless a great many pairs of hands help each 
other in the same undivided employment and at the same time" (E. G. Wakefield: 
M A View of the Art of Colonisation." London: 1849, p. 1C8). 

35 8 Capitalist Production. 

^individual, by means of co-operation, but the creation of a new 
power, namely, the collective power of masses. 1 

Apart from the new power that arises from the fusion of 
many forces into one single force, mere social contact begets in 

/ most industries an emulation and a stimulation of the animal 
spirits that heighten the efficiency of each individual workman. 
Hence it is that a dozen persons working together will, in 
their collective working-day of 144 hours, produce far more 
than twelve isolated men each working 12 hours, or than one 

- man who works twelve days in succession. 2 The reason oi 
this is that a man is, if not as Aristotle contends, a political, 3 
at all events a social animal. 

Although a number of man may be occupied together at the 
same time on the same, or the same kind of work, yet the 
labour of each, as a part of the collective labour, may corres 
pond to a distinct phase of the labour-process, through all 
whose phases, in consequence of co-operation, the subject oi 
their labour passes with greater speed. For instance, if a 
dozen masons plitte themselves in a row, so as to pass stones 
from the foot of a ladder to its summit, each of them does the 
same thing; nevertheless, their separate acts form connected 
parts of one total operation ; they are particular phases, which 
must be gone through by each stone; and the stones are thus 
carried up quicker by the 24 hands of the row of men than 
they could be if each man went separately up and down the 

1 "As one man cannot, and ten men must strain to lift a tun of weight, yet 100 
men can do it only by the strength of a finger of each of them." (John Bellers: 
"Proposals for raising a College of Industry." London, 1696, p. 21.) 

1 "There is also" (when the same number of men are employed by one farmer on 
300 acres, instead of by ten farmers with 30 acres a piece) "an advantage in the pro 
portion of servants, which will not so easily be understood but by practical men; 
for it is natural to say, as 1 is to 4, so are 3: to 12; but this will not hold good in 
practice; for in harvest time and many other operations which require that kind of 
despatch by the throwing many hands together, the work is better and more expedi- 
tiously done; f. i. in harvest, 2 drivers, 2 loaders, 2 pitchers, 2 rakers, and the reit 
at the rick, or in the barn, will despatch double the work that the same number of 
hands would do if divided into different gangs on different farms." ("An Inquiry 
into the connection between the present Price of Provisions and the Size of Farms." 
By a Farmer. London, 1773, pp. 7, 8.) 

* Strictly, Aristotle s definition is that man is by nature a town-citizen. This U 
quite as characteristic of ancient classical society as Franklin s definition of 
a tool-making animal, is characteristic of Yankeedom. 

Co-Operation. 359 

ladder with his burden. 1 The object is carried over the same 
distance in a shorter time. Again, a combination of labour 
occurs whenever a building, for instance, is taken in hand on 
different sides simultaneously; although here also the co 
operating masons are doing the same, or the same kind of 
work. The 12 masons, in their collective working day of 144 
hours, make much more progress with the building than one 
mason could make working for 12 days, or 144 hours. The 
reason is, that a body of men working in concert has hands v 
and eyes both before and behind, and is, to a certain degree, 
omni-present. The various parts of the work progress simul- 

In the above instances we have laid stress upon the point 
that the men do the same, or the same kind of work, because 
this, the most simple form of labour in common, plays a great 
part in co-operation, even in its most fully developed stage. 
If the work be complicated, then the mere number of the men 
who co-operate allows of the various operations being appor 
tioned to different hands, and, consequently, of being carried 
on simultaneously. The time necessary for the completion of 
the whole work is thereby shortened. 2 

In many industries, there are critical periods, determined by 
the nature of the process, during which certain definite results 
must be obtained. For instance, if a flock of sheep has to be 
shorn, or a field of wheat to be cut and harvested, the quantity 
and quality of the product depends on the work being begun 
and ended within a certain time. In these cases, the time 
that ought to be taken by the process is prescribed, just as it 

1 On doit encore remarquer que cette division partielle de travail peut sc faire 
quand meme les ouvriers sont occupes d une meme besogne. DCS masons par ex- 
emple, occupes a faire passer de mains en mains des briques a un echafaudage su- 
perieur, font tous la meme besogne, et pourtant il existe parmi eux une espece de 
division de travail, qui consiste en ce que chacun d eux fait passer la brique par un 
espacc donn, et que tous ensemble la font parvenir beaucoup plus promptement 4 
1 endroit marque qu ils ne le feraient si chacun d eux portait sa brique separiment 
jusqu a 1 echafaudage superieur," (F. Skarbek: "Theorie des richesses sociales." 
Paris, 1829. t. I. pp. 97, 98.) 

* "Est-il question d executer un travail compliqu, plusieur choses doivent 4tre 
faites simultanement. L un en fait une pendant que 1 autre en fait une autre, et 
tous contribuent a 1 cffet qu un seul homme n aurait pu produire. L un rame pendant 
que 1 autre tient le gouvernail, et qu un troisieme jette le filet ou harponne le poisaon, 
et 1* peche a un succes impossible sans ce concours." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c.) 

360 Capitalist Production. 

is in herring fishing. A single person cannot carve a working 
day of more than, say 12 hours, out of the natural day, but 100 
men co-operating extend the working day to 1,200 hours. 
The shortness of the time allowed for the work is compensated 
for by the large mass of labour thrown upon the field of pro 
duction at the decisive moment. The completion of the task 
within the proper time depends on the simultaneous applica 
tion of numerous combined working days ; the amount of use 
ful effect depends on the number of labourers; this number, 
however, is always smaller than the number of isolated la 
bourers required to do the same amount of work in the same 
period. 1 It is owing to the absence of this kind of co-opera 
tion that, in the western part of the United States, quantities 
of corn, and in those parts of East India where English rule 
has destroyed the old communities, quantities of cotton, are 
yearly wasted. 2 

On the one hand, co-operation allows of the work being car 
ried on over an extended space ; it is consequently imperatively 
called for in certain undertakings, such as draining, construct 
ing dykes, irrigation works, and the making of canals, roads 
and railways. On the other hand, while extending the scale 
of production, it renders possible a relative contraction of the 
arena. This contraction of arena simultaneous with, and aris 
ing from, extension of scale, whereby a number of useless ex 
penses are cut down, is owing to the conglome>ation of labour 
ers, to the aggregation of various processes, and to the con 
centration of the means of production. 8 

1 "The doing of it (agricultural work) at the critical juncture is of so much the 
greater consequence." ("An Inquiry into the Connection between the Present Price, * 
&c., p. 0.) "In agriculture, there is no more important factor than that of time." 
(Liebig: "Ueber Theorie und Praxis in der Landwirthschaft." 1856. p. 23.) 

* "The next evil is one which one would scarcely expect to find in a country which 
exports more labour than any other in the world, with the exception, perhaps, of 
China and England the impossibility of procuring a sufficient number of hands to 
clean the cotton. The consequence of this is that large quantities of the crop are 
left unpicked, while another portion is gathered from the ground when it has fallen, 
and is of course discoloured and partially rotted, so that for want of labour at the 
proper season the cultivator is actually forced to submit to the loss of a large part 
of that crop for which England is so anxiously looking." (Bengal Hurkaru. Bi- 
Monthly Overland Summary of News, 22nd July, 1861.) 

In the progress of culture "all, and perhaps more than all, the capital and labour 
which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated for the more complete 
tillage of 100." Although "relatively to the amount of capital and labour employed, 

Co-Operation. 361 

The combined working day produces, relatively to an equal 
sum of isolated working-days, a greater quantity of use-values, 
and, consequently, diminishes the labour-time necessary for the 
production of a given useful effect. Whether the combined 
working-day, in a given case, acquires this increased produc 
tive power, because it heightens the mechanical force of labour, 
or extends its sphere of action over a greater space, or con 
tracts the field of production relatively to the scale of produc 
tion, or at the critical moment sets large masses of labour to 
work, or excites emulation between individuals and raises their 
animal spirits, or impresses on the similar operations carried 
on by a number of men the stamp of continuity and many- 
sidedness, or performs simultaneously different operations, or 
economises the means of production by use in common, or lends 
to individual labour the character of average social labour 
which ever of these be the cause of the increase, the special 
productive power of the combined working day is, under all 
circumstances, the social productive power of labour, or the 
productive power of social labour. This power is due to co 
operation itself. When the labourer co-operates systematic 
ally with others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, 
and develops the capabilities of his species. 1 

As a general rule, labourers cannot co-operate without being 
brought together : their assemblage in one place is a necessary 
condition of their co-operation. Hence wage labourers cannot 
co-operate, unless they are employed simultaneously by the 
same capital, the same capitalist, and unless therefore their 
labour-powers are bought simultaneously by him. The total 
value of these labour-powers, or the amount of the wages of 
these labourers for a day, or a week, as the case may be, must 
be ready in the pocket of the capitalist, before the workmen 
are assembled for the process of production. The payment of 

space is concentrated, it is an enlarged sphere of production, as compared to the 
phere of production formerly occupied or worked upon by one single independent 
agent of production." (R. Jones: "An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth," part 
I. On Rent. London, 1831, p. 191.) 

1 "La forza di ciascuno uomo e minima, ma la riunione delle minime force forma 
una forza totale maggiore anche della somma delle forze medesime fino a che le forte 
per essere riunite possono diminuere il tempo ed accrescere lo spazio della loro 
azione." (G. R. Carli, Note to P. Verri, 1. c. t, xv. p. 196.) 

362 Capitalist Production. 

300 workmen at once, though only for one day, requires a 

greater outlay of capital, than does the payment of a smaller 

number of men, week by week, during a whole year. Hence 

v . the number of the labourers that co-operate, or the scale of 

co-operation, depends, in the first instance, on the amount of 

; capital that the individual capitalist can spare for the purchase 

v of labour-power; in other words, on the extent to which a 

single capitalist has command over the means of subsistence of 

a number of labourers. 

And as with the variable, so it is with the constant capital. 
/ For example, the outlay on raw material is 30 times as great, 
for the capitalist who employs 300 men, as it is for each of 
the 30 capitalists who employ 10 men. The value and quan 
tity of the instruments of labour used in common do not, it is 
true, increase at the same rate as the number of workmen, but 
they do increase very considerably. Hence, concentration of 
large masses of the means of production in the hands of indi 
vidual capitalists, is a material condition for the co-operation 
of wage-labourers, and the extent of the co-operation or the 
scale of production, depends on the extent of this concentra 

We saw in a former chapter, that a certain minimum amount 
of capital was necessary, in order that the number of labourers 
simultaneously employed, and, consequently, the amount of 
surplus-value produced, might suffice to liberate the employer 
himself from manual labour, to convert him from a small 
master into a capitalist, and thus formally to establish capital 
ist production. We now see that a certain minimum amount 
is a necessary condition for the conversion of numerous iso 
lated and independent processes into one combined social 

We also saw that at first, the subjection of labour to capital 
was only a formal result of the fact, that the labourer, instead 
of working for himself, works for and consequently under the 
capitalist. By the co-operation of numerous wage-labourers, 
the sway of capital developes into a requisite for carrying on 
the labour-process itself, into a real requisite of production. 
That a capitalist should command on the field of production, 

Co-Operation. 363 

is now as indispensable as that a general should command on 
the field of Battle. 

All combined labour on a large scale requires, more or less^/ 
-a directing authority, in order to secure the harmonious work-, 
ing of the individual activities, and to perform the general 
functions that have their origin in the action of the combined 
organism, as distinguished from the action of its separate or 
gans. A single violin player is his own conductor ; an orches 
tra requires a separate one. The work of directing, superin- ^ 
tending, and adjusting, becomes one of the functions of capital, v 
from the moment that the labour under the control of capital, ^ 
becomes co-operative. Once a function of capital, it acquires v 
special characteristics. 

The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist produc- / 
tion, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus- v 
value, 1 and consequently to exploit labour-power to the great-v 
est possible extent. As the number of the co-operating labour 
ers increases, so too does their resistance to the domination of 
capital, and with it, the necessity for capital to overcome this 
resistance by counter-pressure. The control exercised by the 
capitalist is not only a special function, due to the nature of 
the social labour-process, and peculiar to that process, but it is, 
at the same time, a function of the exploitation of a social 
labour-process, and is consequently rooted in the unavoidable 
antagonism between the exploiter and the living and labouring 
raw material he exploits. 

Again, in proportion to the increasing mass of the means of 
production, now no longer the property of the labourer, but 
of the capitalist, the necessity increases for some effective 
control over the proper application of those means. 2 More- 

1 "Profits ... is the sole end of trade." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 11.) 
1 That Philistine paper, the Spectator, states that after the introduction of a 
sort of partnership between capitalist and workmen in the "Wirework Company of 
Manchester," "the first result was a sudden decrease in waste, the men not seeing 
why they should waste their own property any more than any other master s, and 
waste is, perhaps, next to bad debts, the greatest source of manufacturing loss." 
The same paper finds that the main defect in the Rochdale co-operative experiments 
s this: "They showed that associations of workmen could manage shops, mills, 
and almost all forms of industry with success, and they immediately improved 
the condition of the men; but then they did not leave a clear place for masters." 
Quclle horreur! 

364 Capitalist Production. 

over, the cooperation of wage labourers is entirely brought 
about by the capital that employs them. Their union into one 
single productive body and the establishment of a connexion 
between their individual functions, are matters foreign and 
external to them, are not their own act, but the act of the 
capital that brings and keeps them together. Hence the con- 

^nexion existing between their various labours appears to them. 

^ideally, in the shape of a preconceived plan of the capitalist, 
practically in the shape of the authority of the same capi 

talist, in the shape of the powerful will of another, who sub 
jects their activity to his aims. If, then, the control of the 
capitalist is in substance twofold by reason of the twofold 
nature of the process of production itself, which, on the one 
hand, is a social process for producing use-values, on the other, 
a process for creating surplus-value in form that control is 
despotic. As co-operation extends its scale, this despotism 
takes forms peculiar to itself. Just as at first the capitalist 
is relieved from actual labour so soon as his capital has reached 
that minimum amount with which capitalist production, as 
such begins, so now, he hands over the work of direct and con 
stant supervision of the individual workmen, and groups of 
workmen, to a special kind of wage labourer. An industrial 
army of workmen, under the command of a capitalist, requires, 
like a real army,/officers (managers), and sergeants (foremen, 
overlookers), who, while the work is being done, command in 
the name of the capitalist. I The work of supervision becomes 
their established and exclusive function. When comparing 
the mode of production of isolated peasants and artizans with 
production by slave labour the political economist counts this 
labour of superintendence among the faux frais of production. 1 
But, when considering the capitalist mode of production, he, 
on the contrary, treats the work of control made necessary by 
the co-operative character of the labour process as identical 
with the different work of control, necessitated by the capitalist 

1 Professor Cairns, after stating that the superintendence of labour is a leading 
feature of production by slaves in the Southern States of North America, continues: 
"The peasant proprietor (of the North), appropriating the whole produce of his toil, 
needs no other stimulus to exertion. Superintendence is here completely dispensed 
with." (Cairnes, 1. c., pp. 48, 49.) 

Co-Operation. 365 

character of that process and the antagonism of interests be 
tween capitalist and labourer. 1 It is not because he is a leader 
of industry that a man is a capitalist ; on the contrary, he is a 
leader of industry because he is a capitalist. The leadership 
of industry is an attribute of capital, just as in feudal times 
the functions of general and judge were attributes of landed 
property. 2 

The labourer is the owner of his labour-power until he has 
done bargaining for its sale with the capitalist; and he can 
sell no more than what he has i.e., his individual, isolated 
labour-power. This state of things is in no way altered by 
the fact that the capitalist, instead of buying the labour-power 
of one man, buys that of 100, and enters into separate con 
tracts with 100 unconnected men instead of with one. He 
is at liberty to set the 100 men to work, without letting them 
co-operate. He pays them the value of 100 independent 
labour-powers, but he does not pay for the combined labour- 
power of the hundred. Being independent of each other, the 
labourers are isolated persons, who enter into relations with 
the capitalist, but not with one another. This co-operation 
begins only with the labour process, but they have then ceased 
to belong to themselves. On entering that process, they be 
come incorporated with capital. As co-operators, as members 
of a working organism, they are but special modes of existence 
of capital. Hence, the productive power developed by the 
labourer when working in co-operation, is the productive power 
of capital. This power is developed gratuitously, whenever 
the workmen are placed under given conditions, and it is capi 
tal that places them under such conditions. Because this 
power costs capital nothing, and because, on the other hand, 
the labourer himself does not develop it before his labour 
belongs to capital, it appears as a power with which capital 

1 Sir James Steuart, a writer altogether remarkable for his quick eye for the 
characteristic social distinctions between different modes of production, says: "Why 
do large undertakings in the manufacturing way ruin private industry, but by coming 
nearer to the simplicity of slaves?" ("Prin. of Pol. Econ.," London, 1767, v. I., p. 
167, 168.) 

Auguste Comte and his school might therefore have shown that feudal lords re 
n eternal necessity in the same way that they have done in the case of the loro* 
of capital. 

366 Capitalist Production. 

is endowed by Mature a productive power that is immanent 
in capital. 

The colossal effects of simple co-operation are to he seen in 
the gigantic structures of the ancient Asiatics, Egyptians, 
Etruscans, c. "It has happened in times past that these 
Oriental States, after supplying the expenses of their civil and 
military establishments, have found themselves in possession 
of a surplus which they could apply to works of magnificence 
or utility, and in the construction of these their command over 
the hands and arms of almost the entire non-agricultural 
population has produced stupendous monuments which still 
indicate their power. The teeming valley of the Kile . . . 
produced food for a swarming non-agricultural population, and 
this food, belonging to the monarch and the priesthood, afford 
ed the means of erecting the mighty monuments which filled 
the land. ... In moving the colossal statues and vast masses 
of which the transport creates wonder, human labour almost 
alone, w r as prodigally used. . . . The number of the labourers 
and the concentration of their efforts sufficed. We see mighty 
coral reefs rising from the depths of the ocean into islands and 
firm land, yet each individual depositor is puny, weak, and 
contemptible. The non-agricultural labourers of an Asiatic 
monarchy have little but their individual bodily exertions to 
bring to the task, but their number is their strength, and the 
power of directing these masses gave rise to the palaces anc 
temples, the pyramids, and the armies of gigantic statues of 
which the remains astonish and perplex us. It is that con 
finement of the revenues which feed them, to one or a feu 
hands, which makes such undertakings possible." 1 This power 
of Asiatic and Egyptian kings, Etruscan theocrats, &c., has in 
modern society been transferred to the capitalist, whether he 
be an isolated, or as in joint stock companies, a collective 

Co-operation, such as we find it at the dawn of human de 
velopment, among races who live by the chase, 2 or say, in 

1 R. Jones. "Text-book of Lectures," &c., pp. 77, 78. The an~ien 4 Assyrian, 
Egyptian, and other collections in London, and in other European capitals, rnjlre us 
eye-witnesses of the modes of carrying on that co-operative labour. 

2 Linguet is probably right, when in his "Theorie des Lois Civiks." he declari 

Co-Operation. 367 

tLe agriculture of Indian communities, is based, on the one 
hand, on ownership in common of the means of production, 
and on the other hand, on the fact, that in those cases, each 
individual has no more torn himself off from the navel-string 
of his tribe or community, than each bee has freed itself from 
connexion with the hive. Such co-operation is distinguished </ 
from capitalistic co-operation by both of the above characteris-i/ 
tics. The sporadic application of co-operation on a large scale v 
in ancient times, in the middle ages, and in modern colonies, * 
reposes on relations of dominion and servitude, principally on^ 
slavery. The capitalistic form, on the contrary, presupposes^ 
from first to last, the free wage labourer, who sells his labour-^ 
power to capital. Historically, however, this form is devel-u 
oped in opposition to peasant agriculture and to the carrying 
on of independent handicrafts whether in guilds or not. 1 From 
the standpoint of these, capitalistic co-operation does not mani 
fest itself as a particular historical form of co-operation, but 
co-operation itself appears to be a historical fonn peculiar to, 
and specifically distinguishing, the capitalist process of pro 

Just as the social productive power of labour that is de- * 
veloped by co-operation, appears to be the productive power - 
of capital, so co-operation itself, contrasted with the process of * 
production carried on by isolated independent labourers, or- 
even by small employers, appears to be a specific form of the j 
capitalist process of production. It is the first change experi- * 
enced by the actual labour-process, when subjected to capital. 
This change takes place spontaneously. The simultaneous ^ 
employment of a large number of wage-labourers, in one andi/ 
the same process, which is a necessary condition of this change, iA 
also forms the starting point of capitalist production. This ^ 
point coincides with the birth of capital itself. If then, on the 

hunting to be the first form of co-operation, and man-hunting (war) one of the 
earliest forms of hunting. 

1 Peasant agriculture on a small scale, and the carrying on of independent handi 
crafts, which together form the basis of the feudal mode of production, and after 
the dissolution of that system, continue side by side with the capitalist mode, also 
form the economic foundation of the classical communities at their best, after the 
primitive form of ownership of land in common had disappeared, and before slavery 
had seized on production in earnest. 

368 Capitalist Production. 

v/ one hand ; the capitalist mode of production presents itself to 
us historically, as a necessary condition to the transformation 

*s of the labour-process into a social process, so, on the other hand, 

\ this social form of the labour-process presents itself, as a 
method employed by capital for the more profitable exploita 
tion of labour, by increasing that labour s productiveness. 

In the elementary form, under which we have hitherto 
viewed it, co-operation is a necessary concomitant of all pro 
duction on a large scale, but it does not, in itself, represent 
a fixed form characteristic of a particular epoch in the develop 
ment of the capitalist mode of production. At the most it 
appears to do so, and that only approximately, in the handi 
craft-like beginnings of manufacture, 1 and in that kind of 
agriculture on a large scale, which corresponds to the epoch of 
manufacture, and is distinguished from peasant agriculture, 
mainly by the number of .the labourers simultaneously em 
ployed, and by the mass of the means of production con- 

j centrated for their use. Simple co-operation is always the 
prevailing form, in those branches of production in which 
capital operates on a large scale, ^M^ivision of labour and 
machinery play but a subordinate part. 

Co-operation ever constitutes the fundamental form of the 
capitalist mode of production; nevertheless, the elementary 
form of co-operation continues to subsist as a particular form 
of capitalist production side by side with the more developed 
forms of that mode of production. 



THAT co-operation which is based on division of labour, as- 
7 sumes its typical form in the manufacture, and is the prevalent 

1 "Whether the united skill, industry, and emulation of many together on th 
ame work be not the way to advance it? And whether it had been otherwise 
possible for England, to have carried on her Woollen Manufacture to so great a pr 
fcction?" (Berkeley. "The Querist." London, 1750, p. 56, par. 521.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 369 

characteristic form of the capitalist process of production 
throughout the manufacturing period properly so called. That 
period, roughly speaking, extends from the middle of the 16th 
to the last third of the 18th century. 

Manufacture takes its rise in two ways: 

(1) By the assemblage, in one workshop under the control ^ 
of a single capitalist, of labourers belonging to various inde- * 
pendent handicrafts, but through whose hands a given article v" 
must pass on its way to completion. A carriage, for example, 
was formerly the product of the labour of a great number of 
independent artificers, such as wheelwrights, harness-makers, 
tailors, locksmiths, upholsterers, turners, fringe-makers, gla 
ziers, painters, polishers, gilders, &c. In the manufacture of 
carriages, however, all these different artificers are assembled 
in one building, where they work into one another s hands. 
It is true that a carriage cannot be gilt before it has been made. 
But if a number of carriages are being made simultaneously, 
some may be in the hands of the gilders while others are going 
through an earlier process. So far, we are still in the domain v 
of simple co-operation, which finds its materials ready to hand- 
in the shape of men and things. But very soon an important^/ 
change takes place. The tailor, the locksmith, and the other 
artificers, being now exclusively occupied in carriage-making, " 
each gradually loses, through want of practice, the ability to u 
carry on, to its full extent, his old handicraft. But, on the v 
other hand, his activity now confined in one groove, assumes 
the form best adapted to the narrowed sphere of action. At 
first, carriage manufacture is a combination of various inde 
pendent handicrafts. By degrees, it becomes the splitting up \J 
of carriage making into its various detail processes, each of " 
which crystallizes into the exclusive function of a particular 
workman, the manufacture, as a whole, being carried on by 
the men in conjunction. In the same way, cloth manufacture, 
as also a whole series of other manufactures, arose by com 
bining different handicrafts together under the control of a 
single capitalist. 1 

*To give a more modern instance: The silk spinning and weaving of Lyons and 
Nimes "est toute patriarcale; elle emploie beaucoup de femmes et d enfants, mais 


370 Capitalist Production. 

(2.) Manufacture also arises in a way exactly the reverse of 
this namely, by one capitalist employing simultaneously in 

* one workshop a number of artificers, who all do the same, or 
the same kind of work, such as making paper, type, or needles. 

This is co-operation in its most elementary form. Each of 
these artificers (with the help, perhaps, of one or two appren 
tices), makes the entire commodity, and he consequently per 
forms in succession all the operations necessary for its produc 
tion. He still works in his old handicraft-like way. But 
very soon external circumstances cause a different use to be 
made of the concentration of the workmen on one spot, and 
of the simultaneousness of their work. An increased quantity 
of the article has perhaps to be delivered within a given time. 
The work is therefore re-distributed. Instead of each man 
being allowed to perform all the various operations in succes 
sion, these operations are changed into disconnected, isolated 
ones, carried on side by side; each is assigned to a different 
artificer, and the whole of them together are performed simul 
taneously by the co-operating workmen. This accidental re 
partition gets repeated, developes advantages of its own, and 
gradually ossifies into a systematic division of labour. The 
commodity, from being the individual product of an inde 
pendent artificer, becomes the social product of a union of 
artificers, each of whom performs one, and only one, of the 
constituent partial operations. The same operations which, in 
the case of a papermaker belonging to a German Guild, merged 
one into the other as the successive acts of one artificer, became 
in the Dutch paper manufacture so many partial operations 
carried on side by side by numerous co-operating labourers. 
The needlemaker of the Nuremberg Guild was the corner- 

sans les Ipuiser ni les corrompre; elle les laisse dans leur belles valle es de la Drome, 
du Var, de 1 Isere, de Vaucluse, pour y dlever des vers et divider leurs cocons; jamais 
elle n entre dans une veritable fabrique. Pour etre aussi bien observe . . . le 
principe de la division du travail s y revet d un caractere special. II y a bien des 
divideuses, des moulineurs, des teinturiers, des encolleurs, puis des tisserands; mais 
ils ne sont pas reunis dans un xneme etablissement, ne dependent pas d un meme 
maitre; tous ils sont inde"pendants." (A. Blanqui: "Cours d Econ. Industrielle." 
Recueilli par A. Blaise. Paris, 1838-39, pp. 79). Since Blanqui wrote this, the 
various independent labourers have, to some extent, been united in factories. [And 
ince Marx wrote the above, the powerloom has invaded these factories, and is now 
1886 rapidly superseding the bandloom. ED.] 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 371 

stone on which the English needle manufacture was raised. 
But while in Nuremberg that single artificer performed a series 
of perhaps 20 operations one after another, in England it was 
not long before there were 20 needlemakers side by side, each 
performing one alone of those 20 operations; and in conse 
quence of further experience, each of those 20 operations was 
again split up, isolated, and made the exclusive function of a 
separate workman. 

The mode in which manufacture arises, its growth out of ^ 
handicrafts, is therefore twofold. On the one hand, it arises* 7 
from the union of various independent handicrafts, which be-/ 
come stripped of their independence and specialised to such an v 
extent as to be reduced to mere supplementary partial processes / 
in the production of one particular commodity. On the other -- 
hand, it arises from the co-operation of artificers of one handi 
craft; it splits up that particular handicraft into its various - 
detail operations, isolating, and making these operations i 
pendent of one another up to the point where each becomes 
exclusive function of a particular labourer. On the one hand, v 
therefore, manufacture either introduces division of labour 
into a process of production, or further developes that divi 
sion; on the other hand, it unites together handicrafts that 
were formerly separate. But whatever may have been its par 
ticular starting point, its final form is invariably the same a 
productive mechanism whose parts are human beings. 

For a proper understanding of the division of labour in y 
manufacture, it is essential that the following points be firmly- 
grasped. First, the decomposition of a process of production- 
into its various successive steps coincides, here, strictly with- 
the resolution of a handicraft into its successive manual opera-u 
tions. Whether complex or simple, each operation has to be.- 
done by hand, retains the character of a handicraft, and is*/ 
therefore dependent on the strength, skill, quickness, and sure- ^ 
ness, of the individual workman in handling his tools. The v 
handicraft continues to be the basis. This narrow technical" 
basis excludes a really scientific analysis of any definite process 
of industrial production, since it is still a condition that each 
detail process gone through by the product must be capable of 

372 Capitalist Production. 

being done by hand and of forming, in its way, a separate 
handicraft. It is just because handicraft skill continues, in 
this way, to be the foundation of the process of production, 
that each workman becomes exclusively assigned to a partial 
function, and that for the rest of his life, his labour-power is 
turned into the organ of this detail function. 

Secondly, this division of labour is a particular sort of co 
operation, and many of its disadvantages spring from the 
general character of co-operation, and not from this particular 
form of it. 


If we now go more into detail, it is, in the first place, clear 
that a labourer who all his life performs one and the same 
simple operation, converts his whole body into the automatic, 
specialised implement of that operation. Consequently, he 
takes less time in doing it, than the artificer who performs a 
whole series of operations in succession. But the collective 
labourer, who constitutes the living mechanism of manufacture, 
is made up solely of such specialised detail labourers. Hence, 
in comparison with the independent handicraft, more is pro 
duced in a given time, or the productive power of labour is 
- increased. 1 Moreover, when once this fractional work is es 
tablished as the exclusive function of one person, the methods 
it employs become perfected. The workman s continued repe 
tition of the same simple act, and the concentration of his 
attention on it, teach him by experience how to attain the 
desired effect with the minimum of exertion. But since there 
are always several generations of labourers living at one time, 
and working together at the manufacture of a given article, 
the technical skill, the tricks of the trade thus acquired, be 
come established, and are accumulated and handed down. 2 
Manufacture, in fact, produces the skill of the detainabourer, 

1 "The more any manufacture of much variety shall be distributed and assigned 
to different artists, the same must needs be better done and with greater expedition, 
with less loss of time and labour." ("The Advantages of the East India Trade," 
Lond., 1780. p. 71.) 

"Easy labour is transmitted skill." (Th. Hodgskin, 1. c. p. 125.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 373 

by reproducing, and systematically driving to an extreme 
within the workshop, the naturally developed differentiation 
of trades, which it found ready to hand in society at large. 
On the other hand, the conversion of fractional work into the 
life-calling of one man ; corresponds to the tendency shown by 
earlier societies, to make trades hereditary; either to petrify 
them into castes, or whenever definite historical conditions 
beget in the individual a tendency to vary in a manner incom 
patible with the nature of castes, to ossify them into guilds. 
Castes and guilds arise from the action of the same natural 
law, that regulates the differentiation of plants and animals 
into species and varieties, except that, when a certain degree 
of development has been reached, the heredity of castes and 
the exclusiveness of guilds are ordained as a law of society. 1 
"The muslins of Dakka in fineness, the calicoes and other piece 
goods of Coromandel in brilliant and durable colours, have 
never been surpassed. Yet they are produced without capital, 
machinery, division of labour, or any of those means which 
give such facilities to the manufacturing interest of Europe. 
The weaver is merely a detached individual, working a web 
when ordered of a customer, and with a loom of the rudest 
construction, consisting sometimes of a few branches or bars of 
wood, put roughly together. There is even no expedient for 
rolling up the warp ; the loom must therefore be kept stretched 
to its full length, and becomes so inconveniently large, that it 
cannot be contained within the hut of the manufacturer, who 
is therefore compelled to ply his trade in the open air, where 
it is interrupted by every vicissitude of the weather." 2 It is 
only the special skill accumulated from generation to genera- 

1 "The arts also have ... in Egypt reached the requisite degree of perfection. 
For it is the only country where artificers may not in any way meddle with th 
affairs of another class of citizens, but must follow that calling alone which by 
law is hereditary in their clan ... In other countries it is found that trades 
men divide their attention between too many objects. At one time they try agri 
culture, at another they take to commerce, at another they busy themselves with two 
or three occupations at once. In free countries, they mostly frequent the assemblies 
of the people. ... In Egypt, on the contrary, every artificer is severely pun 
ished if he meddles with affairs of State, or carries on several trades at once. Thus 
there is nothing to disturb their application to their calling. . . . Moreover, since 
they inherit from their forefathers numerous rules, they are eager to discover fresh 
advantages." (Diodorus Siculus: Bibl. Hist. 1. 1. c. 74.) 

Historical and descriptive account of Brit. India, Ac., by Hugh Murray and 

374 Capitalist Production. 

tion, and transmitted from father to son, that gives to the 
Hindoo, as it does to the spider, this proficiency. And yet the 
work of such a Hindoo weaver is very complicated, compared 
with that of a manufacturing labourer. 

An artificer, who performs one after another the various 
fractional operations in the production of a finished article, 
must at one time change his place, at another his tools. The 
transition from one operation to another interrupts the flow 
/ of his labour, and creates, so to say, gaps in his working day. 
These gaps close up so soon as he is tied to one and the same 
operation all day long; they vanish in proportion as the 
changes in his work diminish. The resulting increased pro- 
-^ ductive power is owing either to an increased expenditure of 
labour-power in a given time i.e., to increased intensity of 
labour or to a decrease in the amount of labour-power un- 
productively consumed. The extra expenditure of power, de 
manded by every transition from rest to motion, is made up 
! for by prolonging the duration of the normal velocity when 
I once acquired. On the other hand, constant labour of one 
A uniform kind disturbs the intensity and flow of a man s animal 
/ spirits, which find recreation and delight in mere change of 

The productiveness of labour depends not only on the pro- 
.. ficiency of the workman, but on the perfection of his tools. 
Tools of the same kind, such as knives, drills, gimlets, ham 
mers, &c. may be employed in different processes ; and the 
same tool may serve various purposes in a single process. But 
so soon as the different operations of a labour-process are dis 
connected the one from the other, and each fractional operation 
acquires in the hands of the detail labourer a suitable and 
peculiar form, alterations become necessary in the implements 
that previously served more than one purpose. The direction 
taken by this change is determined by the difficulties ex 
perienced in consequence of the unchanged form of the imple 
ment. Manufacture is characterized by the differentiation of 

James Wilson, Sec., Edinburgh 1882. v. II. p. 449. The Indian loom is upright, . /., 
the warp is stretched vertically. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 375 

the instruments of labour a differentiation whereby imple- ^ 
ments of a given sort acquire fixed shapes, adapted to each 
particular application, and by the specialisation of those in- 1 / 
struments, giving to each special instrument its full play onl)V 
in the hands of a specific detail labourer. In Birmingham 
alone 500 varieties of hammers are produced, and not only is 
each adapted to one particular process, but several varieties 
often serve exclusively for the different operations in one and 
the same process. The manufacturing period simplifies, inw 
proves, and multiplies the implements of labour, by adapting/ 
them to the exclusively special functions of each detail la- * 
bourer. 1 It thus creates at the same time one of the material 
conditions for the existence of machinery, which consists of a 
combination of simple instruments. 

The detail labourer and his implements are the simplest ^ 
elements of manufacture. Let us now turn to its aspect as a ^ 

whole - d^i Si^ 1 


The organisation of manufacture has two fundamental > 
forms, which, in spite of occasional blending, are essentially v 
different in kind, and, moreover, play very distinct parts in the 

subsequent transformation of manufacture into modern indus-^^ 
try carried on by machinery. This double character arises* , 
from the nature of the article produced. This article either^ 
results from the mere mechanical fitting together of partial 
products made independently, or owes its completed shape to 
a series of connected processes and manipulations. 

A locomotive, for instance, consists of more than 5000 inde 
pendent parts. It cannot, however, serve as an example of 

1 Darwin in his epoch-making work on the origin of species, remarks, with refer 
ence to the natural organs of plants and animals, "So long as one and the same 
organ has different kinds of work to perform, a ground for its changeability may 
possibly be found in this, that natural selection preserves or suppresses each small 
Variation of form less carefully than if that organ were destined for one special 
purpose alone. Thus, knives that are adapted to cut all sorts of things, may, on the 
whole, be of one shape; but an implement destined to be used exclusively in one 
way must have a different shape for every different use." 

3/6 Capitalist Production. 

the first kind of genuine manufacture, for it is a structure 
produced by modern mechanical industry. But a watch can; 
and William Petty used it to illustrate the division of labour 
in manufacture. Formerly the individual work of a Nurem 
berg artificer, the watch has been transformed into the social 
product of an immense number of detail labourers, such as 
mainspring makers, dial makers, spiral spring makers, jewelled 
hole makers, ruby lever makers, hand makers, case makers, 
screw makers, gilders, with numerous sub-divisions, such as 
wheel makers (brass and steel separate), pin makers, movement 
makers, acheveur de pignon (fixes the wheels on the axles, 
polishes the facets, &c.), pivot makers, planteur de finissage 
(puts the wheels and springs in the works), fiuisseur de barillet 
(cuts teeth in the wheels, makes the holes of the right size, 
&c.), escapement makers, cylinder makers for cylinder escape 
ment, escapement wheel makers, balance wheel makers, ra- 
quette makers (apparatus for regulating the watch), the 
planteur d echappement (escapement maker proper) ; then the 
repasseur de barrillet (finishes the box for the spring, &c.), 
steel polishers, wheel polishers, screw polishers, figure painters, 
dial enarnellers (melt the enamel on the copper), fabricant de 
pendants (makes the ring by which the case is hung), fiuisseur 
de charniere (puts the brass hinge in the cover, &c.) faiseur 
de secret (puts in the springs that open the case), graveur, 
ciseleur, polisseur de boite, &c., &c., and last of all the re 
passeur, who fits together the whole watch and hands it over in 
a going state. Only a few parts of the watch pass through 
^several hands ; and all these membra disjecta come together for 
- the first time in the hand that binds them into one mechanical 
* whole. This external relation between the finished product, 
and its various and diverse elements makes it, as well in this 
v case as in the case of all similar finished articles, a matter of 
chance whether the detail labourers are brought together in 
^one workshop or not The detail operations may further be 
carried on like so many independent handicrafts, as they are 
in the Cantons of Vaud and Neufchatel ; while in Geneva there 
exist large watch manufactories where the detail labourers 
directly co-operate under the control of a single capitalist. 

Di insion of Labour and Manufacture. 377 

And even in the latter case the dial, the springs, and the case, 
are seldom made in the factory itself. To carry on the trade 
as a manufacture, with concentration of workmen, is, in the 
watch trade, profitable only under exceptional conditions, be 
cause competition is greater between the labourers who desire 
to work at home, and because the splitting up of the work 
into a number of heterogeneous processes, permits but little 
use of the instruments of labour in common, and the capitalist, 
by scattering the work, saves the outlay on workshops, &C. 1 
Nevertheless the position of this detail labourer who, though^ 
he works at home, does so for a capitalist (manufacturer,/ 
etablisseur), is very different from that of the independent !/\ 
artificer, who works for his own customers. 2 

The second kind of manufacture, its perfected form, pro-/ 
duces articles that go through connected phases of develop-/ 
ment, through a series of processes step by step, like the wirev 
in the manufacture of needles, which passes through the hands 
of 72 and sometimes even 92 different detail workmen. 

In so far as such a manufacture, when first started, com- . 
bines scattered handicrafts, it lessens the space by which the^ 
various phases of production are separated from each other. 
The time taken in passing from one stage to another is^ 
shortened, so is the labour that effectuates this passage. 3 In/ 
comparison with a handicraft, productive power is gained, and " 

1 In the year 1854 Geneva produced 80,000 watches, which is not one-fifth of the 
production in the Canton of Neufchatel. La Chaux-de-Fond alone, which we may 
look upon as a huge watch manufactory, produces yearly twice as many as Geneva. 
From 1850-61 Geneva produced 750,000 watches. See "Report from Geneva on the 
Watch Trade" in "Reports by H. M. s Secretaries of Embassy and Legation on the 
Manufactures, Commerce, &c., No. 6, 1863." The want of connexion alone, between 
the processes into which the production of articles that merely consist of parts fitted 
together is split up, makes it very difficult to convert such a manufacture into a 
branch of modern industry carried on by machinery; but in the case of a watch there 
are two other impediments in addition, the minuteness and delicacy of its parts, and 
its character as an article of luxury. Hence their variety, which is such, that in the 
best London houses scarcely a dozen watches are made alike in the course of a year. 
The watch manufactory of Messrs. Vacheron & Constantin, in which machinery has 
been employed with success, produces at the most three or four different varieties of 
size and form. 

* In watchmaking, that classical example of heterogeneous manufacture, we may 
study with great accuracy the above mentioned differentiation and specialisation of 
the instruments of labour caused by the sub-division of handicrafts. 

* "In so close a cohabitation of the people, the carriage must needs be lea*." 
("The Advantage! of the East India Trade," p. 106.) 

3/8 Capitalist Production. 

this gain is owing to the general co-operative character of 
* manufacture. On the other hand, division of labour, which is 
the distinguishing principle of manufacture, requires the isola 
tion of the various stages of production and their independ 
ence of each other. The establishment and maintenance of a 
connexion between the isolated functions necessitates the in 
cessant transport of the article from one hand to another, and 
from one process to another. From the standpoint of modern 
mechanical industry, this necessity stands forth as a character 
istic and costly disadvantage, and one that is immanent in the 
principle of manufacture. 1 

If we confine our attention to some particular lot of raw 
materials, of rags, for instance, in paper manufacture, or of 
wire in needle manufacture, we perceive that it passes in 
succession through a series of stages in the hands of the 
various detail workmen until completion. On the other hand, 
if we look at the workshop as a whole, we see the raw material 
in all the stages of its production at the same time. The col 
lective labourer, with one set of his many hands armed with 
one kind of tools, draws the wire, with another set, armed 
with different tools, he, at the same time, straightens it, with 
another, he cuts it, with another points it and so on. The 
-/different detail processes which were successive in time, have 
w ybecome simultaneous, go on side by side in space. Hence, 
J production of greater quantum of finished commodities in a 
- given time. 2 This simultaneity, it is true, is due to the 
> general co-operative form of the process as a whole ; but 
Manufacture not only finds the conditions for co-operation 
really to hand, it also, to some extent, creates them by the 
sub-division of handicraft labour. On the other hand, it 

1 "The isolation of the different stages of manufacture, consequent upon the em 
ployment of manual labour, adds immensely to the cost of production, the loss 
mainly arising from the mere removals from one process to another." ("The In 
dustry of Nations." Lond., 1855. Part II., p. 200.) 

1 "It (the division of labour) produces also an economy of time by separating the 
work into its different branches, all of which may be carried on into execution at 
the same moment. . . . By carrying on all the different processes at once, which 
an individual must have executed separately, it becomes possible to produce a multi 
tude of pins completely finished in the same time as a single pin might have bee* 
either cut or pointed." (Dugald Stewart, 1. c., p. 319.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 379 

accomplishes this social organisation of the labour-process onty/ 
by riveting each labourer to a single fractional detail. 

Since the fractional product of each detail labourer is, at the^ 
same time, only a particular stage in the development of one./ 
and the same finished article, each labourer, or each group of ^ 
labourers, prepares the raw material for another labourer or*y 
group. The result of the labour of the one is the starting J 
point for the labour of the other. The workman therefore^/ 
gives occupation directly to the other. The labour-time* 
necessary in each partial process, for attaining the desired 
effect, is learnt by experience; and the mechanism of Manu 
facture, as a whole, is based on the assumption that a given 
result will be obtained in a given time. It is only on this 
assumption that the various supplementary labour-processes 
can proceed uninterruptedly, simultaneously, and side by side. 
It is clear that this direct dependence of the operations, and 
therefore of the labourers, on each other, compels each one of* 
them to spend on his work no more than the necessary time/ 
and thus a continuity, uniformity, regularity, order, 1 and even S 
intensity of labour, of quite a different kind, is begotten than^ 
is to be found in an independent handicraft or even in simple^ 
co-operation. The rule that the labour- time expended on a y 
commodity should not exceed that which is socially necessary 
for its production, appears, in the production of commodities 
generally, to be established by the mere effect of competition ; 
since, to express ourselves superficially, each single producer 
is obliged to sell his commodity at its market price. In 
Manufacture, on the contrary, the turning out of a given 
quantum of product in a given time is a technical law of the 
process of production itself. 2 

Different operations take, however, unequal periods, and 
yield therefore, in equal times unequal quantities of fractional 
products. If, therefore, the same labourer has, day after day, 

1 "The more variety of artists to every manufacture . . . the greater the order 
and regularity 6f every work, the same must needs be done in less time, the labour 
must be less." ("The Advantages," &c., p. 68.) 

2 Nevertheless, the manufacturing system, in many branches of industry, attains 
this result but very imperfectly, because it knows not how to control with certainty 
the general chemical and physical conditions of the process of production. 

380 Capitalist Production. 

to perform the same operation, there must be a different num 
ber of labourers for each operation ; for instance, in type manu 
facture, there are four founders and two breakers to one rub 
ber: the founder casts 2,000 type an hour, the breaker breaks 
up 4,000, and the rubber polishes 8,000. Here we have again 
the principle of co-operation in its simplest form, th& simulta 
neous employment of many doing the same thing; only now, 
this principle is the expression of an organic relation. The 
division of labour, as carried out in the Manufacture, not only 
simplifies and multiplies the qualitatively different parts of the 
social collective labourer, but also creates a fixed mathematical 
relation or ratio which regulates the qualitative extent of those 
parts i.e., the relative number of labourers, or the relative 
size of the group of labourers, for each detail operation. It de- 
velopes, along with the qualitative sub-division of the social 
labour process, a quantitative rule and proportionality for that 

When once the most fitting proportion has been experi 
mentally established for the numbers of the detail labourers in 
the various groups when producing on a given scale, that scale 
can be extended only by employing a multiple of each particu 
lar group. 1 There is this to boot, that the same individual can 
do certain kinds of work just as well on a large as on a small 
scale ; for instance, the labour of superintendence, the carriage 
of the fractional product from one stage to the next, &c. The 
isolation of such functions, their allotment to a particular 
labourer, does not become advantageous till after an increase 
in the number of labourers employed ; but this increase must 
affect every group proportionally. 

The isolated group of labourers to whom any particular 
detail function is assigned, is made up of homogeneous ele 
ments, and is one of the constituent parts of the total 
mechanism. In many manufactures, however, the group itself 

1 "When (from the peculiar nature of the produce of each manufactory), the num 
ber of processes into which it is most advantageous to divide it is ascertained, as 
well as the number of individuals to be employed, then all other manufactories which 
do not employ a direct multiple of this number will produce the article at a greater 
cost. . . . Hence arises one of the causes of the great size of manufacturing 
establishments." (C. Babbage. "On the Economy of Machinery," 1st ed. London, 
1833. Ch. xxi., p. 172-173.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 381 

it* an organised body of labour, the total mechanism being a 
repetition or multiplication of these elementary organisms. 
Take, for instance, the manufacture of glass bottles. It may 
be resolved into three essentially different stages. First, the 
preliminary stage, consisting of the preparation of the com 
ponents of the glass, mixing the sand and lime, &c., and melt 
ing them into a fluid mass of glass. 1 Various detail labourers 
are employed in this first stage, and also in the final one of re 
moving the bottles from the drying furnace, sorting and pack 
ing them, &c. In the middle, between these two stages, comes 
the glass melting proper, the manipulation of the fluid mass. 
At each mouth of the furnace, there works a group, called "the 
hole," consisting of one bottlemaker or finisher, one blower, 
one gatherer, one putter-up or whetter-off, and one taker-in. 
These five detail workers are so many special organs of a single 
working organism that acts only as a whole, and therefore can 
operate only by the direct co-operation of the whole five. The 
whole body is paralysed if but one of its members be wanting. 
But a glass furnace has several openings (in England from 4 
to 6), each of which contains an earthenware melting-pot full 
of molten glass, and employs a similar five-membered group of 
workers. The organisation of each group is based on division 
of labour, but the bond between the different groups is simple 
co-operation, which, by using in common one of the means of 
production the furnace, causes it to be more economically con 
sumed. Such a furnace, with its 4-6 groups, constitutes a 
glass house; and a glass manufactory comprises a number of 
such glass houses, together with the apparatus and workmen 
requisite for the preparatory and final stages. 

Finally, just as Manufacture arises in part from the com 
bination of various handicrafts, so, too, it developes into a com 
bination of various manufactures. The larger English glass 
manufacturers, for instance, make their own earthenware 
melting-pots, because, on the quality of these depends, to a 
great extent, the success or failure of the process. The manu- 

1 In England, the melting-furnace is distinct from the glass-furnace in which the 
glass is manipulated. In Belgium, one and the same furnace serves for both 

382 Capitalist Production. 

facture of one of the means of production is here united with 
that of the product. On the other hand, the manufacture of 
the product may be united with other manufactures, of which 
that product is the raw material, or with the products of which 
it is itself subsequently mixed. Thus, we find the manufac 
ture of flint glass combined with that of glass cutting and brass 
founding; the latter for the metal settings of various articles 
of glass. The various manufactures so combined form more or 
less separate departments of a larger manufacture, but are at 
the same time independent processes, each with its own 
division of labour. In spite of the many advantages offered by 
this combination of manufactures, it never grows into a com 
plete technical system on its own foundation. That happens 
only on its transformation into an industry carried on by ma 

Early in the manufacturing period, the principle of lessen 
ing the necessary labour-time in the production of commodi 
ties, 1 was accepted and formulated: and the use of machines, 
especially for certain simple first processes that have to be con 
ducted on a very large scale, and with the application of great 
force, sprang up here and there. Thus, at an early period in 
paper manufacture, the tearing up of the rags was done by 
paper mills ; and in metal works, the pounding of the ores 
was effected by stamping mills. 2 The Roman Empire had 
handed down the elementary form of all machinery in the 
water-wheel. 3 

The handicraft period bequeathed to us the great inventions 
of the compass, of gunpowder, of type-printing, and of the 
automatic clock. But, on the whole, machinery played that 
subordinate part which Adam Smith assigns to it in compari- 
sion with division of labour. 4 The sporadic use of machinery 

1 This can be seen from W. Petty, John Sellers, Andrew Yarranton, "The Ad 
vantages of the East India Trade," and J. Vanderlint, not to mention others. 

2 Towards the end of the 16th century, mortars and sieves were still used in France 
for pounding and washing ores. 

8 The whole history of the development of machinery can be traced in the history 
of the corn mill. The factory in England is still a "mill." In German technological 
works of the first decade of this century, the term "Muhle" is still found in ue, 
not only for all machinery driven by the forces of Nature, but also for all manu 
factures where apparatus in the nature of machinery is applied. 

As will be seen more in detail in "Theories of Surplus-Value," Adam Smith b*s 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 383 

in the 17th century was of the greatest importance, because it 
supplied the great mathematicians of that time with a practical 
basis and stimulant to the creation of the science of mechanics. 

The collective labourer, formed by the combination of a S 
number of detail labourers, is the machinery specially char-v// 
acteristic of the manufacturing period. The various opera-^ 
tions that are performed in turns by the producer of a com 
modity, and coalesce one with another during the progress of 
production, lay claim to him in various ways. In one opera 
tion he must exert more strength, in another more skill, in an 
other more attention ; and the seme individual does not possess 
all these qualities in an equal degree. After Manufacture has 
once separated, made independent, and isolated the various 
operations, the labourers are divided, classified, and grouped 
according to their predominating qualities. If their natural 
endowments are, on the one hand, the foundation on which 
the division of labour is built up, on the other hand, Manu 
facture, once introduced, developes in them new powers that 
are by nature fitted only for limited and special functions. 
The collective labourer now possesses, in an equal degree of 
excellence, all the qualities requisite for production, and ex 
pends them in the most economical manner, by exclusively 
employing all his organs, consisting of particular labourers, or 
groups of labourers, in performing their special functions. 1 
The one-sidedness and the deficiencies of the detail labourer \J/ 
become perfections, when he is a part of the collective labourer. 2 J 
The habit of doing only one thing converts him into a never 

not established a single new proposition relating to division of labour. What, how 
ever, characterises him as the political economist par excellence of the period of 
Manufacture, is the stress he lays on division of labour. The subordinate part which 
he assigns to machinery gave occasion in the early days of modern mechanical in 
dustry to the polemic of Lauderdale, and, at a later period, to that of Ure. A. Smith 
also confounds differentiation of the instruments of labour, in which the detail 
labourers themselves took an active part, with the invention of machinery; in this 
Utter, it is not the workmen in manufactories, but learned men, handicraftsmen, 
and even peasants (Brindley), who play a part. 

* "The master manufacturer, by dividing the work to be executed into different 
processes, each requiring different degrees of skill or of force, can purchase exactly 
that precise quantity of both which is necessary for each process; whereas, if the 
whole work were executed by one workman, that person must possess sufficient skill 
to perform the most difficult, and sufficient strength to execute the most laborious of 
the operations into which the article is divided." (Ch. Babbage. 1. c., ch. xviii.) 

1 For instance, abnormal development of some muscles, curvature of bones, &c. 

384 Capitalist Production. 

failing instrument, while his connexion with the whole me 
chanism compels him to work with the regularity of the parts 
of a machine. 1 

Since the collective labourer has functions, both simple and 
v complex, both high and low, his members, the individual 
.labour-powers, require different degrees of training, and must 
v^herefore have different values. Manufacture, therefore, de- 
v/yelopes a hierarchy of labour-powers, to which there corres- 
-- ponds a scale of wages. If, on the one hand, the individual 
laborers are appropriated and annexed for life by a limited 
function; on the other hand, the various operations of the 
hierarchy are parcelled out among the laboures according to 
both their natural and their acquired capabilities. 2 Every 
v process of production, however, requires certain simple manip 
ulations, which every man is capable of doing. They too are 
x now severed from their connexion with more pregnant mo- 
ments of activity, and ossified into exclusive functions of spec- 
ially appointed labourers. Hence, Manufacture begets, in every 
/ handicraft that it seizes upon, a class of so-called unskilled 
~ labourers, a class which handicraft industry strictly excluded. 
If it developes a one-sided specialty into a perfection, at the 
expense of the whole of a man s working capacity, it also 
begins to make a specialty of the absence of all development. 
J Alongside of the hierarchic gradation there steps the sim 
ple separation of the labourers into skilled and unskilled. 
For the latter, the cost of apprenticeship vanishes; for the 
former, it diminishes, compared with that of artificers, in 

1 The question put by one of the Inquiry Commissioners, How the young persons 
are kept steadily to their work, is very correctly answered by Mr. Wm. Marshall, the 
general manager of a glass manufactory: "They cannot well neglect their work; 
when they once begin, they must go on; they are just the same as parts of a 
machine." ("Children s Empl. Comm.," 4th Rep., 1865, p. 247.) 

8 Dr. Ure, in his apotheosis of Modern Mechanical Industry, brings out the peculiar 
character of manufacture more sharply than previous economists, who had not his 
polemical interest in the matters, and more sharply even than his contemporaries 
Babbage, e.g., who, though much bis superior as a mathematician and mechanician, 
treated mechanical industry from the standpoint of manufacture alone. Ure says, 
"This appropriation ... to each, a workman of appropriate value and cost was 
naturally assigned, forms the very essence of division of labour." On the other 
hand, he describes this division as "adaptation of labour to the different talents of 
men," and lastly, characterises the whole manufacturing system as "a system for 
the division or gradation of labour," as "the division of labour into degrees of 
skill," &c. (Ure, 1. c. pp. 19-28 passim.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 385 

consequence of the functions being simplified. In both 
cases the value of labour-power falls. 1 An exception to thisv 
law holds goo4 whenever the decomposition of the labour- 
process begets rvew and comprehensive functions, that either 
had no place at all, or only a very modest one, in handicrafts. 
The fall in the value of labour-power, caused by the disap- v 
pearance or diminution of the expense of apprenticeship, im- v 
plies a direct increase of surplus-value for the benefit of v 
capital ; for everything that shortens the necessary labour- - 
time required for the reproduction of labour-power, extends 
the domain of surplus-labour. 



We first considered the origin of Manufacture, then its 
simple elements, then the detail labourer and his implements, 
and finally, the totality of the mechanism. We shall now 
lightly touch upon the relation between the division of labour 
in manufacture, and the social division of labour, which forms\x 
the foundation of all production of commodities. 

If we keep labour alone in view, we may designate the 
separation of social production into its main division or. 
genera viz., agriculture, industries, etc., as division of labour 
hi_j!gn > e.ral r and the splitting up of these families into species 
and sub-species, as division of labour in particular, and the 
division of labour within the workshop as division of labourjn 
singular or in detail. 2 

1 "Each handicraftsman being . . . enabled to perfect himself by practice ia 
one point, became ... a cheaper workman." (Ure, 1. c., p. 19.) 

1 "Division of labour proceeds from the separation of professions the most widely 
different to that division, where several labourers divide between them the preparation 
of one and the same product, as in manufacture." (Storch: "Cours d Econ. Pol. 
Paris Edn." t. I., p. 173.) "Nous rencontrons chez les peuples parvenus a un certain 
degre de civilisation trois genres de divisions d industrie: la premiere, que nous 
nommerons generate, amene la distinction des producteurs en agriculteurs, manu- 
facturiers et commer^ans, elle se rapporte aux trois principales branches d industrie 
nationale; la seconde, qu on pourrait appeler spe ciale, est la division de chaque genre 
d industrie en especes ... la troisieme division d industrie, celle enfin qu on 
de?rait qualifier de division de la besogne ou de travail proprement dit, est cell* qui 
fctablit dans les arts et les metiers scares . . . qui s etablit dans la plupart dea 
manufactures et des ateliers." (Skarbek. 1. c. pp. S4, 85.) 


386 Capitalist Production. 

Division of labour in a society, and the corresponding ty 
ing down of individuals to a particular calling, developes itself, 
just as does the division of labour in manufacture, from oppo 
site starting points. Within a family, 1 and after further de 
velopment within a tribe, there springs up naturally a division 
of labour, caused by differences of sex and age, a division that 
is consequently based on a purely physiological foundation, 
which division enlarges its materials by the expansion of the 
community, by the increase of population, and more especially, 
by the conflicts between different tribes, and the subjugation 
of one tribe by another. On the other hand, as I have before 
remarked, the exchange of products springs up at the points 
where different f an.ilies, tribes, communities, come in contac: ; 
for, in the beginning of civilisation, it is not private indi 
viduals but families, tribes, &c., that meet on an independent 
footing. Different communities find different means of pro 
duction and different means of subsistence in their 
environment. Hence, their modes of production, and of living, 
V and their products are different. It is this spontaneously de 
veloped difference whicli, when different communities come in 
contact, calls forth the mutual exchange of products, and the 
consequent gradual conversion of those products into com 
modities. Exchange does not create the differences between 
the spheres of production, but brings such as are already differ 
ent into relation, and thus converts them into more or less inter 
dependent branches of the collective production of an enlarged 
society. In the latter case, the social division of labour arises 
from the exchange between spheres of production, that are 
originally distinct and independent of one another. In tie 
former, where the physiological division of labour is the star> 
ing point, the particular organs of a compact whole grow loos 3, 
and break off, principally owing to the exchange of commodi 
ties with foreign communities, and then isolate themselves so 

1 Note to the third edition. Subsequent very searching study of the primitive 
condition of man, led the author to the conclusion, that it was not the family that- 
originally developed into the tribe, but that, on the contrary, the tribe was the primi 
tive and spontaneously developed form of human association, on the basis of blood 
relationship, and that out of the first incipient loosening of the tribal bonds, tie 
many and various forms of the family were afterwards developed. (Ed. 3rd ed.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 387 

far, that the sole bond, still connecting the various kinds of 
work, is the exchange of the products as commodities. In the 
one case, it is the making dependent what was before inde 
pendent ; in the other case, the making independent what was 
before dependent 

The foundation of every division of labour that is well de 
veloped, and brought about by the exchange of commodities, is 
the separation between town and country. 1 It may be said, 
that the whole economical history of society is summed up in 
the movement of this antithesis. We pass it over, however, 
for the present. 

Just as a certain number of simultaneously employed 
labourers are the material pre-requisites for division of labour 
in manufacture, so are the number and density of the popula 
tion, which here correspond to the agglomeration in one work 
shop, a necessary condition for the division of labour in 
society. 2 Nevertheless, this density is more or les.i rolative. 
A. relatively thinly populated country, with well-developed 
means of communication, has a dense r population than a more 
numerously populated country, with badly-developed means of 
communication ; and in this sense tho Northern States of the 
American Union, for instance, are more thickly populated than 
India. 3 

Since the production and the circulation of commodities are 
the general pre-requisites of the capitalist mode of production, 
division of labour in manufacture demands, that division of 
labour in society at large should previously have attained a 

1 Sir James Steuart is the economist who has handled this subject best. How 
little his book, which appeared ten years before the "Wealth of Nations," is known, 
even at the present time, may be judged from the fact that the admirers of Malthus 
do not even know that the first edition of the latter s work on population contains, 
except in the purely declamatory part, very little but extracts from Steuart, and in 
a less degree, from Wallace and Townsend. 

2 "There is a certain density of population which is convenient, both for social 
intercourse, and for that combination of powers by which the produce of labour is 
increased." (James Mill, 1. c. p. 50.) "As the number of labourers increases, the 
productive power of society augments in the compound ratio of that increase, multi 
plied by the effects of the division of labour." (Th. Hodgskin, 1. c. pp. 125, 126.) 

3 In consequence of the great demand for cotton after 1861, the production of 
cotton, in some thickly populated districts of India, was extended at the expense of 
rice cultivation. In consequence there arose local famines, the defective means of 
communication not permitting the failure of rice in one district to be compensated 
by importation from another. 

388 Capitalist Production. 

certain degree of development Inversely, the former division 
reacts upon and developes and multiplies the latter. Simul 
taneously, with the differentiation of the instruments of labour, 
the industries that produce these instruments, become more 
and more differentiated. 1 If the manufacturing system seize 
v-upon an industry, which, previously, was carried on in con- 
y/nexion with others, either as a chief or as a subordinate 
v industry, and by one producer, these industries immediately 
v -separate their connexion, and become independent. If it 
u ,.seize upon a particular stage in the production of a com- 
^/modity, the other stages of its production become -converted 
.. into so many independent industries. It has already been 
stated, that where the finished article consists merely of 
a number of parts fitted together, the detail operations may re 
establish themselves as genuine and separate handicrafts. In 
order to carry out more . perfectly the division of labour in 
manufacture, a single branch of production is, according to 
the varieties of its raw material, or the various forms that 
one and the same raw material may assume, split up into 
numerous, and to some extent, entirely new manufactures. 
Accordingly, in France alone, the first half of the 18th cen 
tury, over 100 different kinds of silk stuffs were woven, and 
in Avignon, it was law, that " every apprentice should devote 
himself to only one sort of fabrication, and should not learn 
the preparation of several kinds of stuff at once." The 
territorial division of labour, which confines special branches 
of production to special districts of a country, acquires fresh 
stimulus from the manufacturing system, which exploits every 
special advantage. 2 The Colonial system and the opening 
out of the markets of the world, both of which are included 
in the general conditions of existence of the manufactu